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    Whatever happened to the players in Gilas '23 for '23' pool?

    Jul 30, 2020
    PHOTO: FIBA, Jerome Ascano, AP

    [Editor's Note: First of a three-part series]

    IT'S been over two years since Chot Reyes unveiled his ambitious "23-for-2023" pool, made up of young talents whom he felt should be in the reckoning for the Gilas Pilipinas team to the next Fiba World Cup.

    Quite a haul it was as the then-national coach sought to assemble the best youngsters he could find and prepare them for the global hoops conclave which the country will co-host with Japan and Indonesia.

    Six months since the list was bared, however, Reyes was out of the picture following Gilas' infamous brawl against Australia.

    The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) was forced to reboot the national team program and effectively, the list was put to rest - replaced by another pool that is still in the process of being put together by Tab Baldwin.

    It doesn't mean, though, that everyone in Reyes' list did not get a shot to don the national tri-colors as some of them have worn and are still in line for a national team callup.

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    Spin.ph has decided to revisit that "23-for-2023" list and see where those players are now.

    First off, we look at the guards.

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    Robert Bolick

    Back in 2018, Bolick has already positioned himself as one of the best two-way players in the amateur ranks.

    Using his failed run in La Salle as his main motivation, the Ormoc native went on a tear and captured the MVP award in the 2017 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup while playing for Cignal HD-San Beda.

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    After being named in Reyes' list, Bolick further cemented his status as one of the top young talents as he steered San Beda to a three-peat, finishing his collegiate career with a flourish.

    The 6-foot-1 guard became the third pick in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft and was nothing short of sensational in his rookie season for NorthPort where he averaged 13.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists.

    Bolick was also a late callup to Gilas for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China, where he was one of the silver linings after posting 8.6 points on a 39-percent shooting from deep in the tourney.

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    CJ Perez

    Perez has more than lived up to his 'Baby Beast' moniker, winning the MVP and guiding Zark's Burger-Lyceum to the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup title.

    More importantly, he helped Lyceum rise from the doldrums and steered it to a breakthrough finals appearance in 2017 - his MVP season. In two years at Intramuros, the Bautista, Pangasinan native carried his team to the finals, albeit both ended up in silver-medal finishes.

    Yet there's no question about the upside of the 6-foot-1 slasher, who was a no-brainer for Columbian as the top overall selection of the 2018 PBA rookie class.

    Perez again lived up to the billing in his first year in the pros, winning the Rookie of the Year, emerging as last year's scoring champ with his averages of 20.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals for the Dyip.

    He was also tapped to be part of the Gilas team in the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China, where he normed 12.6 points, 3.2 boards, and 2.6 assists as one of the positives in the Philippines' winless campaign.

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    Perez also won a gold medal in 3x3 basketball in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

    He remained a part of the Gilas pool, tallying 11 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in the Philippines' 100-70 win over Indonesia last February in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.

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    Juan Gomez de Liano

    Gomez de Liano has brought nothing but good things to University of the Philippines since his ascent to the seniors team.

    The UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year has been huge in the Maroons' run to the Final Four in the last two seasons. He averaged 8.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in his third year this past UAAP Season 82.

    He, together with his brother Javi, has expressed intentions to skip the next UAAP season to focus on his individual development as a part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool, although vowed to return in the future.

    Speaking of Gilas, Juan GDL did play last February against Indonesia where he racked up 10 points, two assists, and one board in 11 minutes of action.

    The 6-foot-2 guard has been garnering interest from overseas-based teams, although before the pandemic, he was playing for Marinerong Pilipino in the PBA D-League and was set to see action for the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL).

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    Remy Martin

    Martin is one of the highly touted names in Reyes' list as the Fil-Am guard really turned heads in his three seasons for Arizona State.

    The Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year awardee in his rookie season in 2018, the 6-foot point guard put it all together in his junior year, netting 19.1 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.1 rebounds for the Sun Devils.

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    He has since declared for the 2020 NBA Draft.

    Martin, whose mother Mary Ann Macaspac hails from Pampanga, has repeatedly expressed his desire to wear the Gilas uniform in the future even as he chases his NBA dream. However, there are doubts on whether the shifty guard will be eligible to play as a local for Gilas in the future.

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    Matt Nieto

    Nieto has established himself as one of the top guards in the collegiate ranks after quarterbacking Ateneo to a UAAP three-peat in his successful run in Katipunan.

    Matty Ice averaged 7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals to help the Blue Eagles capture the championship for the third consecutive year.

    It's no wonder he, together with his twin brother Mike, was included in the special Gilas pool for the 2019 PBA Rookie Draft, with NLEX taking him at third overall.

    Nieto has since played for Gilas and saw action in the game against Indonesia, dishing out six assists on top of his two points and three rebounds in 15 minutes of play.

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    Paul Desiderio

    Desiderio cemented his name in University of the Philippines' lore with his heroics in his final two seasons in the UAAP, where he anchored the Fighting Maroons to their first Final Four and Finals appearance in over two decades.

    The 6-foot-1 guard joined the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft, where he was picked fourth by NLEX and later on traded to Blackwater.

    In his first season, Desiderio averaged 4.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 16 minutes of play for the Elite, but is poised to garner more minutes with new coach Nash Racela at the helm.

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      PHOTO: FIBA, Jerome Ascano, AP
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