October 04, 2023

5 best centers in Gilas Pilipinas history, ranked

5 best centers in Gilas Pilipinas history, ranked
Art by One Sports

The game of basketball has evolved so much over the past 15 years or so, and that evolution can be seen in the center position. Whereas pivots used to park inside the lane in the old years, they are now expected to be mobile and versatile enough to venture outside the paint—but still play big to control the action inside.

That evolution is somehow evident in the 5s who have worn that Gilas jersey through the years, including one who turned out to be a complete package. With that being said, it is time to take a look at the five best Gilas centers of all time—ranked from the okay to the best and onto the very best

5.  Ange Kouame

Kouame has been a role player for Gilas, and he has played that role about as well as he could have in limited minutes. His averages of 4.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 4 games aren’t exactly eye-popping, but he does his job as a big whenever he plays.

4.  June Mar Fajardo

Sure, Fajardo is no Kraken in the international game. But he has had his moments, including a solid run in the 2017 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, when he averaged 10.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. Oh, and by the way, remember that breakthrough World Cup win back in 2014? Fajardo dropped 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 32 minutes in that match—arguably his best in a Gilas uniform.

3.  Kai Sotto

Sotto, a 7-foot-2 beanpole, has been solid so far for Gilas and has largely played to his strengths—playing the dunker’s spot, rebounding, and protecting the paint. He has been productive in that way, posting near double-double averages of 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds on top of 3.3 blocks in three windows (six games total). And at 20, he is only going to get better.

2.  Marcus Douthit

The OG naturalized Filipino, Douthit was a rock for Gilas 1.0—productive, played within himself, and always poised. He was a throwback big, though, and he played big for the Philippines in his time, giving Gilas an inside presence (17.2 points per game), a reliable rebounder (10.9 rebounds), and a defensive anchor (1.8 blocks).

1.  Andray Blatche

Recruited to reinforce Gilas in the 2014 World Cup, Blatche proved to be the perfect fit for the national team, providing not only an inside presence, but also NBA-pedigree playmaking. The 6-foot-11 Blatche was three-level scorer who could shoot the trey ball, put it on the floor, and finish at the rim. He could also rebound, pass, and defend. His per game averages of 18.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.2 blocks say it all.

Honorable mention: Asi Taulava