YOUNG as the players may be, the all-cadets Gilas Pilipinas squad has been nothing but impressive in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain.
Former national coach Yeng Guiao echoed those sentiments, especially given the short preparation time the youngsters had before flying to Bahrain.
"I only have good impressions on the team. They have chemistry," he told SportsPage on Monday.
The Philippine team completed a sweep of all-pro Thailand side on Monday to preserve its unbeaten 3-0 record in Group A of the qualifiers.
It was an excellent showing for the team, with Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, and Juan Gomez de Liano shining for Team Philippines.
"These guys are coming from different collegiate teams, but when you blend them together, they are playing really well," the NLEX mentor added.
Guiao, however, believes the youthful crew hasn't really been tested yet as they have yet to take on the usual heavyweights in the continent.
For that alone, the jury is still out on this all-cadets side, Guiao said.
"When you see them play against Japan, Korea, or the Middle Eastern teams, that's the time we can say they are ready," he said.
"Also, the best way for them to learn is for them to play with the veterans and to play against the veterans, and combine that with playing tough games with international teams such as Japan, Korea, Lebanon, probably Iran, the upside is just going to be greater for them."
Make no mistake about it: Guiao is happy with how these young guns are getting the exposure that they need as future cornerstones of Gilas.
But to him, when it comes to building the national team for the 2023 Fiba World Cup, tapping players from the PBA is still the way to go.
"If we're really looking towards the 2023 FIBA World Cup, that's going to be competition against the highest level of players from all over the world. With this team, there's going to be three, maybe four, maybe five guys who might be that good when 2023 comes," he said, echoing his earlier pronouncements when it comes to Gilas.
"I still feel we're going to need our pro players if we really want to assemble the best team. This program is going towards using non-PBA players all the way to 2023, but I'm not really sure if that's the best way to assemble the best talent."
"This team is still going to get better, I have no doubt about that. But the best players that go to the best competitions are still all pro players."