GARY David and LA Tenorio, two holdovers from Gilas Pilipinas team that won last year’s Jones Cup in Taipei, have been left in awe by the talent and size suddenly available to national coach Chot Reyes as he forms a team for the Fiba-Asia championships this August.
The arrival of seven-footer Greg Slaughter, 6-9 Japeth Aguilar, and 6-10 June Mar Fajardo to beef up a frontline that already counts on 6-10 naturalized player Marcus Douthit and 6-7 Sonny Thoss has significantly added size to what should easily be the tallest Philippine basketball team ever formed.
The pool has an average height of 6-4 1/2.
“Ito na yata ang pinakamalaking national team na lalaro sa atin," said Tenorio after Gilas' first practice since Reyes formed his 17-man pool for the Asian championships in Manila from August 1-11. "Sa sobrang laki, si Ranidel (de Ocampo) nga nilagay na guard.”
David, for his part, said: "Grabe ang laki ng batch na ito. Biruin mo, itong mga big man natin di mo matatawaran. Mas solid ang big men natin ngayon, tapos solid din naman ang small forwards saka power forwards natin.”
Although injured players Jason Castro (bruised rib) and Rain or Shine's Jeff Chan (broken thumb) failed to play, Monday's practice gave Tenorio a first look at the deep well of talent at Reyes' disposal when he forms his 12-man team.
The talent available, he said, will be enough to give the Philippines a shot at a Top 3 finish - and a spot in next year's world championships in Spain.
Tenorio, the Jones Cup MVP, also feels Reyes and assistant coaches Norman Black, Ryan Gregorio, and Jong Uichico will have a hard time trimming down the lineup to 12 come July 1, the deadline set by Fiba to submit the official roster.
“Kahit sino ang ma-lineup sa amin puwede eh. With this lineup kasi, sobrang laki ng chance natin sa Fiba-Asia,” said the 28-year-old former Ateneo star point guard.