THIRDY Ravena and two to three PBA players will complete the Gilas Pilipinas lineup.
This was the sentiment of former Gilas coach Rajko Toroman in response to a viewer question during Thursday’s SPIN Zoom In episode on what the Philippine national team needs in their buildup for the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup in the short term and the 2023 Fiba Basketball World Cup in the long term.
“I think that this team needs two or three players from PBA to make them stronger,” said Toroman.
The Serbian coach added: “What I heard, I don’t know if its true or not that Tab Baldwin is thinking about Thirdy Ravena and one more guy. That will be great to make a better lineup.”
A Gilas side made up mainly of college stars and reinforced by Kai Sotto and naturalized player Ange Kouame completed a sweep of their three games in the final window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers, twice beating nemesis Korea.
Gilas went 0-2 in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament, but gained respect by holding its own against world No. 5 Serbia before losing, 83-76. The Philippines closed the competition with a 94-67 defeat against Dominican Republic.
The national squad now shifts its focus to the Fiba Asia Cup to be played in Jakarta from August 16 to 28. National coach Tab Baldwin said he expects the squad to be back in training after a three-week break.
Thirdy, power forward, and combo guard
Toroman believes the current Gilas lineup doesn’t need any major changes. But if changes will be made, he bats for players who will fit the system of Baldwin, and not necessarily because they're the best available talent.
“I won’t change too much,” said Toroman. “I think this is the basic players that they have to bring to the Fiba Asia Cup. I said maybe two, three guys to be stronger who will fit the team. Maybe not the best player but the best guys who will fit the team.”
“Sometimes, the chemistry is more important than individual quality of the player. I think to find two, three guys who will help the team and the chemistry, that’s it. They are good. They are talented. They will be successful,” added Toroman.
Toroman said Gilas needs one power forward and a combo guard but feels there's no need for another point guard, saying Dwight Ramos, SJ Belangel, and RJ Abarrientos have already proven that they can handle that role.
“For sure, Thirdy Ravena who is playing in Japan. Maybe one player in the four-position [power forward]… And a guard. That’s it. You have two good point guards, Abarrientos and number 27 [SJ Belangel]. You have Dwight Ramos.”
“I will go for Thirdy Ravena, one position four, and one combo guard,” said Toroman.