Is Gilas proof that FEU has the best basketball program?

Is Gilas proof that FEU has the best basketball program?
Mac Belo, RR Pogoy, Mike Tolomia, Carl Bryan Cruz, and Raymar Jose are all part of the active cadet lineup for Gilas and all of them will see action in either the Jones Cup or the Southeast Asian games.

Here's a hot take: the FEU basketball program is the best in the Philippines.

Okay, *arguably* the best.

Need proof? Well, just look at Gilas Pilipinas, our national team for basketball.

Mac Belo, RR Pogoy, Mike Tolomia, Carl Bryan Cruz, and Raymar Jose are all part of the active cadet lineup for Gilas and all of them will see action in either the Jones Cup or the Southeast Asian games.

In the case of Tolomia, Jose, and Cruz, they will play in both tournaments.

Six Tamaraws actually make up the Gilas cadets although the towering Russel Escoto is still recovering from a knee injury.

Although not all of them are in the PBA yet, this specific core of Tamaraws that current TNT mentor Nash Racela coached went to two UAAP Finals and won one championship.

Last season, Jose's FEU was one nullified basket away from advancing to a third-straight UAAP Finals appearance.

"Masaya kami kasi marami kaming FEU players na kasama dito [Gilas Pilipinas] as one team. Parang nakita namin na nagbunga yung hard work namin nung nasa FEU pa kami. Laking pasalamat din namin kay coach Nash kasi kung hindi dahil sa kanya hindi kami ganito. Siya yung nagturo samin talaga ng tamang landas," Pogoy said on the Gilas Tamaraws.

"Masayang-masaya sa pakiramdam kasi ang FEU well-represented. Kumbaga one family kami. Nagpapatunay lang talaga na maganda programa ng FEU -- hanggang dito nakaabot sa national team," Cruz added.

FEU's roots in the Philippine national team runs deep. Terrence Romeo, who was one of the seniors at Morayta to all of these "cadets", is one of the cornerstones of the PBA version of the Gilas squad.

Sure, he only had one tour of duty with Team Pilipinas eight years ago, San Miguel's Arwind Santos is still a former FEU Tamaraw.

Even in the PBA, Tamaraws run amok. The latest revelation is RR Garcia, the former UAAP MVP who looks like he finally found a home with the KaTropa under Racela.

"Nakikita naman ng tao na maraming FEU sa pros at ngayon sa Gilas. Very thankful ako na nakasali rin ako sa program ng FEU," Jose, who is expected to declare his name in the upcoming PBA draft said.

"Isa sa best talaga yung FEU, yung program ng FEU. Alam naman natin, hindi lang sa Gilas, sa PBA ang dami din eh. Sila Terrence, RR, ang dami din dun na FEU. Yun din yung proof na iba yung program ng FEU," Pogoy added.

And although this core of Tamaraws ultimately only contributed one UAAP championship to FEU's grand total of 20, the fact remains that this group is one of the best, if not the best, in recent memory.

Just look at our national team for one second.

Asked what makes the FEU program so special, Pogoy stated a reason that goes beyond basketball.

"Siguro ano, ang kaibahan sa FEU isa is yung mga player dun, hindi mayaman kaagad," the TNT rookie said.

"Alam mo yung pursigido talaga lahat para ma-reach nila yung goal talaga nila dahil sa kahirapan, yung mga ganun," he added.

FEU has *arguably* the best basketball program in the Philippines right now. Just look at our national team.

 

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8

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