October 04, 2023

Young guns aplenty in Gilas Pilipinas pool for last FIBA window, but should they get their shot now?

Young guns aplenty in Gilas Pilipinas pool for last FIBA window, but should they get their shot now?

The SBP has released the pool of players for sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, to be held this February, and two words best describe it: young and talented.

In fact, this pool might be among the youngest ever with the inclusion of teenagers Francis ‘LeBron’ Lopez and Mason Amos, and 21-year-olds Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao. Aside from that, Schonny Winston, 23, and Jerom Lastimosa, 24, are also in the pool as first timers.

Add in Gilas mainstays Kai Sotto, 20, and Dwight Ramos, 24, and this pool really is teeming with youth.

And with all that young talent, it is fair to ask: Should Gilas let the young guns play against Jordan and Lebanon?

There is no easy answer here. From a long-view perspective, it makes perfect sense to let Amos and company get their licks in come the sixth window, as they may very well be next in line anyway. Besides, it’s not like a youthful lineup with all of Lastimosa, Winston, Ramos, Lopez, Amos, Tamayo, Quiambao, and Sotto is a bad one, especially when reinforced by, say, Scottie Thompson, Justin Brownlee, Jamie Malonzo, and June Mar Fajardo.

Then again, conventional wisdom also dictates the Gilas go all-in for this sixth window, especially since it is the last leading up to the World Cup in August. Put simply, a pair of victories over two of Asia’s best programs in Lebanon and Jordan can help Gilas build some much needed momentum for the big dance.

The best guess here is that the Gilas coaching staff will be in win-now mode for the sixth window and will likely leave off Lastimosa, Amos, Lopez, and Winston. If available, Ramos, Tamayo, and Sotto are sure to be shoo-ins given their previous Gilas showings, while Quiambao might be on the fringes.

Whichever direction Gilas goes, however, tapping the younger players and talented first-timers only bodes well for the program, both for the final World Cup pool and for the future.