Putting together the Gilas Pilipinas national team is no easy task.
As we get closer and closer to Monday, the day when the official pool is said to be released, we’re hearing about more and more players who aren’t getting released by their mother clubs, or players who have begged off or are skipping national team duties to heal from injuries.
In our previous Fantasy Gilas edition, we threw out a scenario where the SBP could only get players from the MVP-owned teams, Talk ’N Text, NLEX and Meralco. But let’s flip the script and imagine a world where the SBP was aligned with the San Miguel Corporation. Let’s pretend that in this world, they too are having a problem coming up with a full roster, and are only allowed to pick from the San Miguel Beermen, the Star Hotshots and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
What would the team look like? Would it be a competitive squad?
Check out this All-SMC Gilas team:
Alex Cabagnot – San Miguel Beermen, 6’1”, Age 32
You could argue that Cabagnot’s game has its limitations, especially when you think about how well he’d do against international players. Against better defenses, he might not get into the lane as easily as he does in the PBA. But what I like about him though is that he’s not afraid to take the big shots. It sounds cliche, I know, but this gutsy point guard was one of the main catalysts of the recent championships of San Miguel. Shooting, passing, and rebounding can be taught, but having the clutch gene comes from within.
LA Tenorio – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 5’9”, Age 31
I know, I know. LA won’t be participating in the next FIBA tournament due to fatigue, but what the heck, LA is just too good to be left out. Since we’re doing a fantasy Gilas roster, it wouldn’t hurt to include this floor general right? He is still deceptively quick and incredibly creative for his position. A plus also would be his leadership on and off the court. He’s a veteran whom a lot of players respect and look up to.
Peter June Simon – Star Hotshots, 6’2”, Age 35
Some say he’s not the same PJ Simon anymore. Some say he’s lost a step since winning the Grand Slam with San Mig Coffee a year ago. Some say he’s old and obsolete. Well, I say he’s a Tasmanian Devil of a scorer who can still light up the scoreboard. It’s true that he’s not as fast anymore, but what I’m relying on is his shooter’s mentality. He’s not afraid to score and he’ll find a way to get you those two points one way or another. If he can’t get to the rim like he used to, I’ll have Cabagnot and Tenorio finding him off screens.
Mark Barroca – Star Hotshots, 5’10”, Age 29
In terms of international experience, Barroca is right up there. He was part of the original Smart Gilas program back in 2009 before he entered the PBA. This background, together with his overall development in the pros, makes him a favorite to be part of our All-SMC team. Despite a rocky 2014-2015 PBA season, Barroca’s overall game and potential haven’t lost a step.
Marcio Lassiter – San Miguel Beermen, 6’2”, Age 28
Quick question: Did you watch Marcio Lassiter’s performance in the 2015 Governor’s Cup semifinals and finals?
Okay, we’re on the same page.
Arwind Santos – San Miguel Beermen, 6’4”, Age 34
Arwind Santos has beautifully transformed his game from that of an MVP into a solid role player/sidekick for the Beermen. He paved the way for the coming of June Mar Fajardo while remaining a vital cog for San Miguel. He still has those one or two triples per game, but it’s his all-around effort that’s worth applauding. He puts his head down and does the little things that his team needs. This 2015 version of Arwind Santos definitely deserves a place in this Gilas roster.
Marc Pingris – Star Hotshots, 6’6”, Age 33
How can we not include Pinoy Sakuragi in an All-SMC Gilas team? I don’t think I have to explain why he should be here.
Again, this is a fantasy scenario wherein Pingris will actually suit up for this dream team ignoring reports that say he’s otherwise occupied with family matters in France.
Mac Baracael – Barangay Ginebra, 6’4”, Age 30
If you’re a die-hard fan, you will likely argue that Baracael’s recent track-record has not been great. That said, he shot his best three-point percentage this season, 35.8 from beyond the arc. Plus, there’s always the chance that he’ll regain his Smart Gilas form from back in the day, re-teaming up with Mark Barroca. For more height, you could plug Japeth Aguilar instead in this spot, but we’re assuming his finger injury also prevents him from playing in this what-if scenario.
Ian Sangalang – Star Hotshots, 6’8”, Age 23
Let’s not forget about this kid! Sangalang was injured way back during the start of the 2014-215 Philippine Cup. It’s been nearly nine months since his ACL and MCL injury and he’s hopefully ready to go. He might not be in tip-top game-shape yet, but you can do worse with 12th guys on the roster, and he can only benefit from the international experience, which he can apply when he returns to the PBA, or for future national team tourneys.
Arizona Reid – San Miguel Beermen, 6’5”, Age 29
In this universe, the SBP is pretty content with the height we have, and went another route, naturalizing one of the best imports in recent years to play in the PBA, Arizona Reid! Although there may be other NBA players out there who might be interested in playing for the Philippines (Hello JaVale McGee!), getting Reid wouldn’t be so bad. He won’t put up gaudy numbers like he did in the 2015 Gov. Cup Finals, but he can be a do-it-all guy for the team.
Plus, I would love him talk to the press and declare something like, “If the Philippines goes 0-2 in the FIBA Asia, you can send me packing.”
Then Gilas goes on an undefeated streak! Yay for us!
Greg Slaughter – Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 7’1”, Age 27
Slaughter hasn’t been in the international scene for quite some time, not since he was a reserve in Gilas I, but since this is the All-SMC team, of course Greg is part of this! You don’t see a lot of seven-foot basketball players walking around, so Slaughter on this team is an obvious choice. He’s been a rock-solid PBA contributor, but maybe the international spotlight allows him to unlock a deeper level of his game.
June Mar Fajardo – San Miguel Beermen, 6’11”, Age 25
In a perfect world, June Mar Fajardo won’t experience another injury ever. He’ll continue to grow and improve his game. In this fairytale, he’ll be more dominant than ever. And in this picture-perfect world, we can hope to see The Kraken in every single international tournament for the foreseeable future. Fajardo is so valuable to every version of Gilas, fantasy or not. Then again, we can only hope in this perfect and carefree world.
Here’s a recap of the line-up:
PG – Alex Cabagnot / LA Tenorio / Mark Barroca
SG – Marcio Lassiter / Peter June Simon
SF – Arwind Santos / Mac Baracael
PF – Arizona Reid / Marc Pingris / Ian Sangalang
C – June Mar Fajardo / Greg Slaughter
This team is a bit short at the guards and small forward position but what they lack in height, they can make up for it in speed. With their quickness, they can get to the paint where the giants of our team await. Defensively, this can also be an exciting team that can do a lot of full court press and trapping. Even though this team is only from the three SMC squads, I really like this group. They have size, speed, strength, shooting, and overall they’re just a talented bunch.
Do you agree or disagree with this All-SMC Gilas team?