THEY’VE been part or considered to be included in the national team at one point in their careers — and their performance in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup title series should be enough for them to be considered for a return or a debut for Gilas.
For new Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach Jimmy Alapag, Calvin Abueva, Sonny Thoss, and JVee Casio of Alaska and San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter, among others, deserve to be in the conversation for the next batch that will represent the country starting in the Fiba Asia Championship in August.
The recently retired Alapag said Thoss and Casio should have a chance at making a comeback after their experience in international play in the past.
But it’s Abueva, the Aces coach Alex Compton’s energizer bunny who has yet to don the national colors, who Gilas really needs as far as Alapag is concerned.
“You gotta put him in there,” the former Gilas star playmaker said. “I think coach Alex has him playing at such a high level. I don’t think there’s ever really a question about his talent.”
“But I just think he should just focus on playing basketball,” he was quick to add. “I know he has his instincts still. But for the most part, he’s playing basketball. Alaska is feeding off his play.”
On the other hand, Alapag said “four to five players” should be included in the mix from the Beermen, mentioning Fajardo, the reigning PBA MVP, as a shoo-in and Lassiter, a former Gilas 1.0 gunner, as another pool candidate.
There are also plenty of choices outside the Finals protagonists.
Alapag rattled off the names of Purefoods stars Mark Barroca, Joe Devance, and PJ Simon as possible prospects. Barroca was a member of the amateur-laden squad under coach Rajko Toroman. Devance and Simon have yet been considered in the past, but have been key cogs in the Hotdogs’ Grand Slam run.
Alapag feels they should also take a look at Barangay Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, who once flew the flag in the past, being part of the first Gilas squad as well.
“Slaughter has to be in, but he still has a lot to improve on.”
“Those are some of the guys I feel should really get deep consideration,” the former Talk ‘N Text point guard added.
Alapag said he will meet with new Gilas coach Tab Baldwin when the American-Kiwi mentor he arrives in the country on Tuesday to lay out the future plans for the squad.
“I’m really excited to see what coach Tab and the staff decide.”