Don’t be surprised if you see swingmen Scottie Thompson or CJ Perez being converted into point guards or if big men AJ Edu and Japeth Aguilar be tasked to slide to the No. 3 spot when Gilas Pilipinas sees action in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
With positionless basketball now being the norm, Gilas Pilipinas is adapting to such changes, especially in the biggest basketball event in the world.
From the initial list, you have the tallest Filipino team ever assembled in 7-foot-2 center Kai Sotto, a pair of 6-foot-10 slotmen in June Mar Fajardo and Edu, an athletic 6-foot-9 forward in Aguilar and quality wingmen in 6-foot-7 Carl Tamayo, 6-foot-6 Jamie Malonzo and 6-foot-5 Calvin Oftana.
Also included in the pool are naturalized players headed by National Basketball Association campaigner Jordan Clarkson, Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame as well as Filipino overseas campaigners Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, Thirdy and Kiefer Ravena, Jordan Heading and Rhenz Abando as well as Philippine Basketball Association stars RR Pogoy, Chris Newsome and Poy Erram.
With this kind of roster, exciting times are ahead for Philippine basketball.
But in reality, we will be more excited to see who will be out there training regularly for Gilas and I can share how Gilas assistant coach Tim Cone and head coach Chot Reyes feel.
Cone was able to experience forming a tall team for the Bangkok Asian Games in 1998.
He had a seven-footer in EJ Feihl, a pair of 6-foot-9 centers in Marlou Aquino and Andy Seigle and veterans Jun Limpot and Dennis Espino.
With that, Alvin Patrimonio — the best power forward in that era — had to play the small forward spot as he was undersized for his position in the international competition.
The overwhelming size Gilas presented when they released the 21-man pool doesn’t excite the PBA’s winningest coach that much.
“I’ll be more excited when we can get everyone together. We’ll see,” wrote Cone in a Viber Message.
So this is going to be about expectation versus reality.
How realistic we can have Clarkson and Sotto joining Gilas in time for the World Cup remains uncertain as they are expected to miss the bulk of overseas training and some pocket tournaments.
Yes, it’s highly probable that we can get them on board before the World Cup, but the amount of time they can spend together with the rest of the team is also something to look forward to.
We need not just the most talented, but the best-prepared team.
The PBA had already stepped up to the challenge as it made the ultimate sacrifice of cutting down its season and reducing the number of tournaments while making all players available in anticipation of a Gilas call up.
For three months, Gilas will have uninterrupted training, which was part of the wish list of Reyes.
But there are more important matters to be addressed and that is the availability of the players.
Several players are still recovering from injuries — Fajardo, Pogoy and Oftana — while the commitment of Clarkson and Sotto remains hanging.
With the way things are going, it looks like we’re going to wait later than expected for these two important pieces to join the Philippine quintet.