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New Gilas players Revilla, Torres, need maturity, shooting

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Maturity and outside shooting are some of the crucial issues that Mahindra’s breakout star LA Revilla, Norbert Torres of Phoenix and the rest of the Gilas newcomers now face after their surprise inclusion in the elite 25-man Gilas Pilipinas training pool.

Joining Revilla and Torres in the Gilas newbies club are Art Dela Cruz of Blackwater, Bradwyn Guinto of NLEX and rookie Jonathan Grey of Meralco, now all tasked to help the country on its bid in the FIBA Asia Cup in August and eventually the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

The 5-foot-8 Revilla showed a vast improvement since entering the professional league in 2013 fresh from La Salle’s UAAP title run, but we don’t see him being in the same breath as the taller and faster Jayson Castro, former FIBA Asia’s best pointguard, just yet.

Torres, a member of the 2013 La Salle UAAP title team like Revilla, has a great potential on becoming a sniping big man, like Kevin Love or Reynel Hugnatan. Standing at 6-foot-6, the Gilas coaching staff should train Torres as the next Ranidel de Ocampo, who also donned the Gilas jersey the past three years.

Torres is also undersized in an international basketball scene, so he should improve his footwork ahead of the FIBA competition.

We see Dela Cruz, a three-time NCAA champion for San Beda, providing versatility like Guinto who also played forward and center positions in Mahindra and NLEX.

It is Grey, however, who will mostly benefit in this long-term program for Gilas cadets since he is already the protege of former Gilas captain, Jimmy Alapag.

Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar, Alaska star Calvin Abueva, reigning three-time PBA MVP Junemar Fajardo and Asia’s Best Point Guard Jayson Castro will banner this year’s national team aiming to qualify in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

Joining also the previously announced 12-man Gilas cadet rookies is two-time PBA scoring champion Terrence Romeo. The former FEU stalwart impressed basketball fans all over Asia when he spearheaded the country in the William Jones Cup and FIBA Asia two years ago.

After sustaining an injury in 2015, Paul Lee of Star Hotshots returns in the international scene together with his former Rain or Shine teammate Raymond Almazan. TNT sophomore forward will also suit up anew for the Philippines.

The newly-formed Gilas squad will begin their journey in the 2017 Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) championship set in April.

It will be a qualifier in the historic 2017 FIBA Asia from Aug. 17 to 27, where Australia and New Zealand are joining the Asian nations for the first time in the merged FIBA continental contest. (Alex Cerado)

Here is the 24-man Gilas roster:

1. Mac Belo – Blackwater
2. Carl Bryan Cruz – Alaska
3. Ed Daquioag – Meralco
4. Russel Escoto – Mahindra
5. Kevin Ferrer – Ginebra
6. Alfonzo Gotladera -NLEX
7. Jio Jalalon – Star
8. Von Pessumal – Globalport
9. RR Pogoy – Talk N Text
10. Arnold Van Opstal – San Miguel
11. Mike Tolomia – Rain or Shine
12. Matthew Wright -Phoenix
13. Calvin Abueva – Alaska
14. Art Dela Cruz – Blackwater
15. Japeth Aguilar – Ginebra)
16. Terrence Romeo – Globalport
17. LA Revilla – Mahindra
18. Jonathan Grey – Meralco
19. Bradwyn Guinto – NLEX
20. Norbert Torres – Phoenix
21. Raymond Almazan – Rain or Shine
22. June Mar Fajardo – San Miguel
23. Paul Lee – Star
24. Jayson Castro – TNT