13 Reasons Why Gilas Pilipinas will win SEABA
Paul Lintag on May 10, 2017 02:50 PM
"We don't want to overlook the SEABA. Pag hindi tayo nanalo sa SEABA, pass your paper na tayo lahat dito." --- Chot Reyes said on SEABA back in January. Yes, this tournament is a big deal.
The first major tournament for Gilas Pilipinas this year is coming up and the national team is most definitely ready to go.
And while some people may think that it might be overkill for Gilas to send a loaded team to a sub-regional tournament, do know that the SEABA Championships serve as a qualifier for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.
Only one team from Southeast Asia will get an invite to that tournament. That means Gilas should do anything not to suffer an incomprehensible upset in Manila on May 12-18.
"We don't want to overlook the SEABA. Pag hindi tayo nanalo sa SEABA, pass your paper na tayo lahat dito," returning national team head coach Chot Reyes said back in January.
Yeah, SEABA is a big deal.
With that in mind, Gilas Pilipinas should still win this one and advance to join the big boys of Asia (and the boys from Oceania for that matter).
However, if you still have your own doubts, here are 13 reasons why the Philippines will re-affirm its basketball dominance on this side of planet Earth after it takes the court at the Big Dome.
1. Andray Blatche.
Let's start with the most obvious reason why the Philippines will win the 2017 SEABA Championship.
Andray Blatche is arguably the best naturalized player in Asia. Emphasis on the word naturalized. His mere presence elevates the potential of Gilas Pilipinas to do greater things when it comes to international play.
Sure, he didn't exactly impress in the 2015 FIBA-Asia Championships and in the 2016 Olympic Qualifiers but he was out of shape two years ago and he only played two games for the Philippines last year, a super small sample size for what it's worth.
Blatche was pretty effective in the 2014 FIBA World Cup under Chot Reyes. The two reuniting for the national team for 2017 might do the former Brooklyn Net some wonders.
Also, Blatche just won a championship in the latest CBA season so you know the guy is in perfect basketball shape.
2. June Mar Fajardo.
The second most obvious reason why the Philippines will win the 2017 SEABA Championships is none other than June Mar Fajardo himself.
The PBA already has no one to match up with the Kraken. It should be realistic enough to think about that our ASEAN neighbors will also have some trouble containing our reigning three-time league MVP.
After languishing on the bench for the majority of his Gilas career, Fajardo is also poised to finally have a breakout performance for the Philippines this time around.
Pair him up with Blatche as a 4-5 combo on the floor and you have a world-class frontline ready to terrorize opponents on the block.
In the genius words of San Miguel head coach Leo Austria: "Unfortunately for them, we have June Mar Fajardo."
Yes, size has been a major problem for the Philippines when it comes to basketball. There's no denying that fact.
However, this latest version of Gilas Pilipinas definitely has some size to spare.
Aside from Blatche and Fajardo, the Philippines still has Japeth Aguilar on deck, capable of playing three positions. Also, a rare luxury Gilas will have for SEABA is a third-string center. We're looking at you, Raymond Almazan.
Gilas also has an incredible collection of versatile wingmen which can practically switch everything on defense and have some decent advantage on offense.
4. "Three and D."
Speaking of those versatile wingmen, our SEABA rotation all fit the classic "Three and D" prototype that is very popular and quite effective in today's game.
Sure, we have no pure shooter in the mold of Larry Fonacier, Dondon Hontiveros, or even Jeff Chan as with past Gilas reiterations but we do have the returning Calvin Abueva, RR Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Allein Maliksi, and Troy Rosario in tow.
All have size (see reason no. 3), speed, length for defense, and last time we checked, all are pretty good shooting from the outside.
Three and D baby.
5. Home-court advantage.
This is a no-brainer right?
Our home-court advantage for SEABA 2017 should feel more like the 2013 FIBA-Asia joust. And considering how well we did four years ago at the MOA Arena, expect the the Big Dome to be rocking this time around as Gilas feels a true home-court advantage.
Forget about the 2016 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, that was a dud.
6. Chot Reyes.
Yes, one of the main reasons why the Philippines will win SEABA and advance to the FIBA Asia Cup is coach Chot.
Hate on him all you want but the guy knows what he's doing with the national team.
Sure, some of his ways may be unconventional and controversial but you can't deny the success he's had while coaching team Philippines.
Also, coach Chot will most definitely keep the SEABA 12 accountable for anything, so you can count on the fact that if Gilas somehow messed things up at this tournament, there will be some consequences.
7. Bro-Beast is back.
Ah yes, the pair of stars fans love to hate in the PBA but absolutely adore when it comes to international play.
After a brief hiatus, the Bro-Beast tandem of Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva is back for Gilas Pilipinas. We know what these two are capable of doing together, if you want proof, Google Gilas highlights from the 2015 FIBA-Asia championships real quick.
In a system that runs best with harmony, Romeo and Abueva are Gilas' wildcard. If coach Chot wants to go a little crazy at SEABA to maybe change things up, simply put the Bro and the Beast on the court together.
And then just simply watch and enjoy the fireworks.
8. The Blur.
Jayson Castro, reigning two-time Best Point Guard in Asia.
9. Jio Jalalon.
Believe it or not, Jio Jalalon should be a major factor in determining just how good Gilas Pilipinas can be for SEABA and beyond.
The Star rookie is in the final lineup for a reason. Remember our greatest success story, the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships?
You might recall that team featuring three actual point guards in Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, and LA Tenorio.
Now think about the roles of those three for a moment. Jimmy was Jimmy. He was the captain, ran the system perfectly, and was the resident Mr. Clutch. Jayson was the wrecking ball, sure it looked like he was only one-dimensional (his outside game is better now than four years ago) but that one dimension was unstoppable. Tenorio was the stabilizer, Mr. Reliable (just like how he is with Ginebra right now), and the two-way monster that was the epitome of being cool and steady.
Now think about the possible roles of the three point guards we currently have. Jayson is Jayson, now four years wiser, expect the Blur to be there in the clutch the same way Jimmy did before. Terrence Romeo the wildcard is our new wrecking ball. And as for Jio? Well he can be our stabilizer and Mr. Reliable. Sure that might be too big of a task for a PBA rookie but he's the purest point guard we have. Shoule make sense right?
10. We have a "Team A."
Chemistry might be a problem for Gilas Pilipinas considering Andray Blatche will only have one week of training and this version of the national team is basically a new crew altogether.
However, one thing that has been consistent with the Gilas program is forming an actual team to send out to international tournaments.
Gone are the days that the Philippines is merely represented by the biggest names in the PBA, a virtual All-Star team.
What we have right now is an actual team, sure it might take a game or two of actual SEABA play to smoothen some of the rough edges, but the Philippines is fielding a versatile lineup capabale of answering anything the opposition has to offer. And based from our 25-man pool, this might be the strongest one.
Gilas can afford to play big, small, fast, or slow. The combinations are endless.
11. Sense of urgency.
The 2017 SEABA Championships is serious business for the Philippines.
The recent success of the Gilas program --- advancing to the FIBA World Cup after four decaces --- has restored the status of the Philippines as one of Asia's basketball powers.
Losing its stranglehold on Southeast Asia might be a little too embarassing for our country is it not?
You can see it in the entire team, they also talk about it all the time. Gilas is ready to go for this tournament, the sense of urgency is there to try and win this thing convincingly.
If all else fails, we can always rely on PUSO right? It worked before, it should still work now.
Granted, PUSO is not something that you can rely on to achieve actual basketball results. However, sometimes, the intangibles can make the biggest difference.
Our PUSO is the biggest intangible we have on the basketball court, don't you agree?
13. We are the Philippines.
The Philippines is not losing at the 2017 SEABA Championships simply because we're the Philippines.
Until another team actually beats Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippines remain as the Kings of Basketball on this side of Planet Earth.
See you all on May 12-18.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8