TALK ‘N Text veterans Ranidel de Ocampo and Jason Castro are one in saying that any revamp of the Gilas Pilipinas program should put a slant on youth, in the belief that there are a lot of young players capable of taking the national team to the next level.
De Ocampo, 32, cited the case of regional powerhouse China which, after a series of failures by its once vaunted team in the international stage, started the painful process of putting together a band of young players.
That youth-laden team, De Ocampo pointed out, was soundly beaten by Gilas on its home floor in the Fiba Asia Cup in Wuhan but came back to deal the demoralized Filipinos a crushing defeat in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, 78-71.
“Naalala ko nung makalaban namin ang China, mga bata. Sila na rin naglaro sa Asian Games. So malamang, sila na rin ang maglalaro sa Fiba-Asia (next year),” De Ocampo told Spin.ph on Saturday, shortly after Talk ‘N Text’s All Saint’s Day practice at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center inside the Ateneo campus.
"Kaya mas maganda, yung simula na kaagad ng maaga at kahit na mga bata pa sila, sila na rin magkakasama."
Castro felt the PBA has enough talent to choose from in the wake of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas' decision to form a selection panel to pick the coach and members of the team that will go to war in the Fiba Asia championships next year.
The Gilas mainstay cited playmakers Mark Barroca of Purefoods Star and Alaska's JVee Casio who, he said, should be “shoo-ins” for the revamped squad.
For one, Castro said the two are no longer new to the international game, having honed their games in the original Gilas squad of Rajko Toroman.
“Mas maraming deserving ngayon na mga guards na kaya maglaro sa Fiba or international game, ready naman anytime. Pero syempre, iniisip ko ibang guards kagaya ni Barroca, JVee Casio, kasi may experience na rin sila eh,” Castro said.
However, De Ocampo said gathering these players to form a new batch for Gilas is easier said than done, pointing out that it will take not only total commitment from the players but also the cooperation of their mother teams in the pro league.
“Ang ano dyan, kung papayagan ba sila ng (mother) team nila. Kung 'yung isang team ba eh papayagan na maraming players na maglalaro (sa Gilas) at manggaling sa team nila, kasi yun lang palagi ang issue dyan,” stressed the former St. Francis of Assisi standout.
“Kung sino ang handang lumaban, yun ang magandang maglaro diyan (in the new Gilas team). Iyung gustong mag-commit, kasi yes or no lang naman yan eh kung magko-commit or hindi.”