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Gilas evolution thrills veterans

A pair of Gilas Pilipinas veterans are thrilled seeing Gilas Pilipinas evolve from being a guard-oriented team into a very versatile, athletic squad.

Former Gilas stars Gabe Norwood and Jayson Castro yesterday said they are amazed at how flexible the squad had become, especially during the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Jordan and Saudi Arabia recently.

Gilas used to be known as a guard-oriented team.

In fact, Jimmy Alapag and Castro became household names in Asian basketball due to their playmaking brilliance, deadeye shooting, and gutsy penetrations.

The 5-foot-9 Alapag even caught the fancy of no less than Lebanese skipper Fadi El-Khatib, who considered him as the “best point guard in Asia” during his long stint with Gilas.

This time, Gilas had evolved into a very athletic squad with players capable of running up and down the court while maintaining their accurate shooting from the perimeter.

“I like the versatility and the composition of our national team,” Norwood, an athletic 6-foot-5 winger who was part of the team that clinched the silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship.

“They’re bigger, more athletic and more versatile. Size is not a problem with Kai (Sotto), Ange Kouame and Japeth (Aguilar), and if we can add June Mar (Fajardo) into the mix, it will give us more size and depth inside.”

“But I was impressed, too, seeing Scottie (Thompson) and CJ (Perez) sharing guard spots. So far, so good for our team.”

Castro, who shared the backcourt chores with Alapag in the FIBA World Cup in 2014, said he is likewise fascinated seeing Thompson and Perez efficiently quarterbacking Gilas during the fifth window against Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

“They showed better ball movement and Scottie and CJ were able to play efficiently at the point guard spot,” said Castro in a telephone conversation with Daily Tribune.

“With these two players as well as Dwight Ramos sharing the backcourt, we’ll be able to match up against bigger guards.”

Castro added that he believes the weekly session had somehow developed the chemistry and the bond shared by the members of the squad, which helped the team a big deal in sweeping the fifth window.

The Philippines looks forward to winning the next two games at home in the final window of the qualifiers that will be played at the Philippine Arena in February next year.

Still, Castro cited the need for a floor general.

“We still need a natural point guard for insurance,” he added.

“The value he brings is essential for the team. A point guard who will provide a calming presence and guidance and not be panicky.”

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