Amid all the controversy surrounding SMART-Gilas Pilipinas, assistant coach Josh Reyes sat down with InterAKTV to detail the structure of the national basketball program.
According to Reyes, there are currently three teams planned for the program: the SMART-Gilas national men’s basketball team, a temporary SMART-Gilas select team, and the SMART-Gilas cadet team. Read on to know the details.
SMART-Gilas national men’s basketball team
Current pool: Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, Gabe Norwood, Gary David, LA Tenorio, Jason Castro, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes, Sonny Thoss, Ranidel De Ocampo, Enrico Villanueva, JVee Casio, Jeff Chan, Jared Dillinger, Mac Baracael and Sol Mercado.
The SMART-Gilas team is composed of PBA players who have made a commitment to give up their off-seasons and free days to play for the national team. This is the elite team that will represent the country at the highest of levels like the FIBA Asia Championship and, if fortunate enough to qualify, the world-level competitions.
Though the team is currently composed of an all-PBA lineup, it is expected to be reinforced by a naturalized player, whether it be NBA center JaVale McGee or current naturalized center Marcus Douthit, depending on their availability.
Because the international basketball schedule often conflicts with the PBA, these players cannot play every tournament, necessitating the creation of other pools within the program.
SMART-Gilas select team
Tentative lineup: Chris Tiu, Cliff Hodge, Chris Ellis, Aldrech Ramos, Emman Monfort, Garvo Lanete, Vic Manuel, Dave Marcelo, Woody Co
The select team is a squad that will be representing the country in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association tournament in July that would serve as a qualifier for the FIBA Asia Cup, formerly the Stankovic Cup.
This is a temporary group whose commitment will only extend until the end of the SEABA tilt. Because that tournament runs in conflict with both the PBA and the collegiate leagues, only players who don’t have commitments have been named to the squad. The team is also expected to be bolstered by Douthit.
The SMART-Gilas brain trust reiterates that players named to this pool are only committed until the end of the tournament. After that, they will be free to join the PBA draft if they choose to do so.
The list of players for the select team is by no means final. Some players have begun to join the SMART-Gilas practices, which serves as a tryout for the final lineup.
The eligibility of the two Filipino-Americans, Hodge and Ellis, is also being closely monitored because of the possibility of stricter FIBA ruling about naturalized/dual citizen players that almost caused Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz to miss the FIBA Asia championships last year.
SMART-Gilas cadet team
No official names yet.
The cadet team is expected to be composed of junior players who will make a long-term commitment to the national program. Though no names have been officially released, it is fair to speculate that up-and-coming college stars like Kiefer Ravena and Bobby Ray Parks, Jr. will be invited to take part in the team. Letran star Kevin Alas has already confirmed that he has committed to the team, although he has not signed papers yet.
SMART-Gilas is holding off making any official announcement at the moment, so as not to interfere with the upcoming collegiate basketball season.
There has been some controversy over the move of Hodge and Ellis to skip the PBA draft to join SMART-Gilas, but the program insists that the duo are not yet officially part of the cadet team. This does not preclude them from becoming members of the team, however.
But the idea for the cadet team is to have a pool of much younger players training with elite professionals and gaining valuable experience from international stints at a young age, to prepare them for when their generation takes over the senior team.
This kind of training is the norm for international basketball programs. Players like Tony Parker of France and Ricky Rubio of Spain began training with their national squads as teenagers. Parker made his debut for France’s senior team at 19, while Rubio was a member of Spain’s Olympic team at age 17.
The cadet squad will attempt to give younger players similar exposure, going head-to-head with PBA players in practice and joining international tournaments when the pros are tied up with their leagues.
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