All-PBA team in SEA Games?

Gilas Pilipinas didn’t have much time to prepare when it lost to Indonesia.

Gone are the days when sending an all-professional team to the men’s basketball event of the Southeast Asian Games was considered an overkill.

The tradition of sending amateur players to the biennial meet had already been broken.

Overkill? Perhaps such a description may be applied during those days when the Philippine Basketball Association was the only professional league in the region.

Now, nearly all countries had already caught up following the creation of the Asean Basketball League.

Realizing that we don’t want to screw up in front of our home crowd, the country did not only put together one of the best squads in the SEA Games with a collection of Philippine Basketball Association stars, but it also sent its best coach in Tim Cone, the winningest mentor in PBA history.

Cone barely had trouble beating teams along the way and the national squad’s legacy was restored.

Last year in Hanoi, the Filipinos were given a reality check as they lost the gold medal to Indonesia.

The Gilas squad was composed of six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Matthew Wright, Isaac Go, Kib Montalbo, Kevin Alas, William Navarro, Mo Tautuaa, Francis Lopez and brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena.

The elder Ravena saw his streak of winning gold medals snapped and even announced his retirement from the SEA Games.

Gilas Pilipinas didn’t have much time to prepare when it lost to Indonesia.

But that’s not an excuse.

With the PBA season coming to an end, most likely by the third week of April, the national team is scrambling for time to put together a competitive squad in this tourney where the Filipinos are pressured to reclaim the gold.

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes had earlier confirmed players from the Japan B. League will not participate, which means that the best — or probably the most logical choice — is to put up an all-PBA squad.

But selecting the best available players is also a big question.

Definitely, three-time PBA Best Import and naturalized player Justin Brownlee will be there.

The biggest problem, however, are the players manning the middle as six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar have been sidelined with various injuries while 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto is still in pursuit of his dream of making it big overseas.

Perhaps the fittest among the crack big men in the PBA is Christian Standhardinger, who is playing the finest game of his career averaging 23.4 points on a high 63.6 percent shooting from the field with 9.9 rebounds and 5.8 assists.

His MVP numbers are noticeable, but being included in the national squad is a question as he is categorized as a naturalized player.

But Gilas Pilipinas was able to find ways of having Standhardinger and National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson play together in the 18th Asian Games in 2018 and it was something it needed to revisit to have the 6-foot-8 Ginebra banger and Brownlee play together.

We expect the young stars in the PBA to make themselves available as these guys can still endure the hard pounding of non-stop basketball.

At this point, it looks like an all-PBA squad may be the best solution to reclaim the lost glory in the regional stage.

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