Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos spearhead the Gilas Pilipinas Men pool for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam. The newly-minted leaders headline the latest iteration of the national team composed of reliable veterans and young talent.
The 16-man pool for the Men’s Basketball 5-on-5 event was announced by head coach Chot Reyes on Friday.
“We always said that we wanted to look always into the future,” Reyes said.
Ravena and Ramos were given leadership roles after the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers last month. The two are currently playing in the Japan B. League but will be available before the SEA Games open.
Former Gilas mainstays June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Matthew Wright also make their return to the lineup. The three were part of the 2019 SEA Games team that took home the gold. Joining them are fellow PBA players Kevin Alas, Robert Bolick, JP Erram, Isaac Go, Kib Montalbo, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, and Mo Tautuaa.
“We can only bring one naturalized player and we felt we needed size because we have reports of other countries having big naturalized players,” Reyes said on the team’s decision to include Tautuaa instead of TNT star Mikey Williams. “We thought it would be best to pick Mo Tautuaa instead.”
Completing the pool are young standouts Will Navarro, LeBron Lopez, and newcomer Caelum Harris.
“We wanted to have a lot more young players in the pool except the SEA Games is going to overlap with the UAAP schedule so that strikes out a lot of the collegiate players that are in our roster,” Reyes explained as he pointed out the support that the PBA has given. “We would love to have Ange Kouame, Justine Baltazar, Carl Tamayo, Dave Ildefonso, all those guys on the list with us.”
The Philippines has been the standard for the 5-on-5 basketball event of the SEA Games, winning gold in the last 13 editions and 18 overall.
“The key now is how quickly we can come together for practice to prepare,” Reyes said.
In the 3×3 event, the quartet of Reymar Caduyac, Jorey Napoles, Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, and Marvin Hayes look to defend the country’s title.
The four are part of the Limitless App team that won the inaugural PBA 3×3 conference, capturing the grand finals as well as the two tournament legs prior.
The Philippines won the first edition of the 3×3 event in 2019 in Manila.