Terrific 12

By: Denison Rey Dalupang - Philippine Daily Inquirer November 24,2019 - 07:49 AM

June Mar Fajardo | Inquirer Photo

A 12-man roster that has height, heft, outside shooting, athleticism and valuable pro and international experience was finally released Saturday, and it will try to win the gold medal that truly matters to this basketball-crazed country when the 30th Southeast Asian Games rolls along next week.

June Mar Fajardo, the reigning five-time PBA Most Valuable Player and two-time World Cup veteran, banners this batch of Gilas Pilipinas Nationals that will be highly-favored to win the title even with the opposition steadily improving in recent years.

Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle, Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger, Kiefer Ravena, and first time Nationals Chris Ross and Vic Manuel complete the team, which will be coached by Tim Cone.

Ravena, incidentally, will be shooting to win a fifth SEA Games gold medal.

The Philippines has been the most dominant basketball force in the region, winning the cage gold for the last 28 years.

Even with collegiate standouts in the past, Team Philippines lost the cage gold just twice—in 1979 and 1989 to Malaysia—while winning the last 12 editions of the Games.

And, with this lineup, Team Philippines is not taking any chances, especially with the country hosting the 30th edition, as its roster is just one naturalized player short of being one that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas usually builds for bigger international events like the Fiba World Cup.

Scottie Thompson, Greg Slaughter and Art dela Cruz, all Cone boys at Barangay Ginebra, were the last cuts.

Jason Castro, once voted as Asia’s best point guard, was regarded as a shoo-in until a foot injury kept him out of practice and forced Cone to cut him.

“Although the decision was surely not easy, the SBP has complete trust in the team and we’re excited to defend our crown as the best basketball team in the region,” SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement.

Gilas opens its bid against Singapore on Dec. 4 at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.

The original schedule was for the Filipinos to play the Malaysians first. Indonesia is also a formidable foe.

San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua was also appointed by the SBP as the team’s adviser.

The development is seemingly indicative of a new era within the program that has long been populated by personalities from the Manny V. Pangilinan group and standouts from its three PBA teams.

“We hope that the Filipino basketball fans are as excited as us and that they’ll be there at the games in support of the team,” Panlilio added.

Cone was named as the man in charge of this Gilas team last Sept. 20, and will do it just this one as the program transitions from the Yeng Guiao era.

The team starts daily practices on Nov. 28 as Cone is awaiting the conclusion of the quarterfinals of the season-ending Governors’ Cup.

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TAGS: 30th Southeast Asian Games, Gilas Pilipinas Nationals, June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy, World Cup veteran

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