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    Where to next for these young Filipino basketball stars this year?

    Jan 1, 2021

    CLOCK is ticking and the new year is here.

    And with that comes a renewed optimism that as dire as the year 2020 was, 2021 will bring better fortunes not just for Philippine sports but for everyone.

    That hope couldn't be any more true for these seven players who, at least for us here at Spin.ph, is worth following as we follow closely where their paths will take them in the new year.

    After doing the UAAP and the NCAA versions these past few days, here are our picks for the players to watch this 2021.

    Thirdy Ravena

    Groundbreaking was the year 2020 for Ravena as he became the first Filipino to play in the B.League.

    And even though he's still halfway through his first season in Japan, the 24-year-old has certainly made a good account of himself in his time with San-En NeoPhoenix, as evidenced by him being named to the All-Star Game.

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    Yes, the 2020-21 B.League season still lasts until May, and the NeoPhoenix, as struggle of a season as it has been, can still turn it around and make a run to the playoffs which means that Ravena's stay in the Land of the Rising Sun can be further extended.

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    But the world is Ravena's for the taking, and whenever the season ends for San-En, the options will definitely be aplenty for him.

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      A return trip in Japan is surely top of mind, but with the kind of play he has garnered, it also isn't that far off for him to continue reaping in offers elsewhere. After all, he has drawn interests before from places like Australia, New Zealand, and even as far as Italy.

      Who knows, Ravena can also declare for the PBA and whenever he decides to do so, we're pretty sure he'll vault to the top of the list and be looked at as the consensus no. 1 pick.

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      Justine Baltazar


      Speaking of consensus no. 1 pick, Baltazar truly has the potential to take that tag if he decides to enter the upcoming PBA Rookie Draft.

      Without question the best big man in college today, the Kapampangan proved just that in his Gilas Pilipinas debut this past November, enough for coaches and scouts to salivate on his potential.

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      Not that La Salle can't do anything about it, as Baltazar still has one more year left in Taft. And no doubt, coach Derrick Pumaren would love to have him for one last go round with the Green Archers come UAAP Season 84.

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      Kobe Paras

      The second-generation star previously declared that he will be back for University of the Philippines, but that was long before the cancellation of UAAP Season 83 was announced.

      Paras still hasn't come out in public of what the future holds for him, but insiders shared that the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart has gotten significant interest overseas -- one he should ponder on as the new year dawns.

      Of course, the 6-foot-6 high-flyer can stay put and remain in Diliman, a welcome jolt for the Fighting Maroons who are aching to end a 35-year title drought.

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      Juan Gomez de Liaño

      Gomez de Liano, insiders say, has also turned heads overseas from his time in Mighty Sports back in January.

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      His stellar play for Gilas Pilipinas this past November just boosts those, and it won't be long until teams court him to take his act internationally.

      Juan playing for the professional Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 league may have spelled the untimely end to Gomez de Liano's collegiate career, but it's not like he will be left without options -- one he could soon see go in fruition come 2021.

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      Javi Gomez de Liaño


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      Compared to his younger brother, Javi still has the option to suit up for UP for his final collegiate playing year and keep his goals of bringing the glory back in Diliman alive and kicking.

      But the options just got wider for Gomez de Liano after his breakout performance for Gilas Pilipinas last November, with some arguing that he is already primed to make it to the PBA.

      If he chooses to make the leap, there's no question that Javi is a surefire first-rounder, that is if he won't be included in the special Gilas draft.

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      Calvin Oftana


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      The NCAA Season 95 MVP only needed a game to show his worth for Gilas Pilipinas.

      Oftana's performance in Bahrain definitely opened the floodgates of opportunity for him, proving that he has what it takes to make the leap to the PBA if he decides to join the upcoming Rookie Draft.

      The Dumaguete-born forward still has one more year left in San Beda, but as much of a tantalizing prospect as redemption is for him, his body of work with the Red Lions already speaks for itself.

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      William Navarro


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      Centers truly are a rare commodity in the PBA, and Navarro, if he decides to enter, should merit a long, hard look from PBA teams.

      Brief as his stint was for Gilas Pilipinas in November, the Athens-raised banger was able to hold his own in the international stage, enough for pundits to speculate his inclusion to a potential special Gilas draft.

      Navarro, though, won't be without choices as he still has one more year left in Ateneo as the Blue Eagles, now led by Dwight Ramos, are poised to make a run for a four-peat whenever the UAAP resumes.

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