With the 2023 FIBA World Cup just three years away, former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao sees two players who should be prime and ready for the global meet.
During last Saturday’s Hoop Coaches International Webinar presented by Blackwater, the multi-titled tactician said that twin towers Kai Sotto and AJ Edu should be lock-ons to make the national team roster in that tournament.
“Ilagay na natin ‘yung isang slot diyan kay Kai Sotto. ‘Yung isang slot dyan ibigay natin kay AJ Edu,” said Guiao when asked about his outlook for the Philippines in that tournament.
“We have to reserve slots for them.”
Guiao has always been fascinated with the two youngsters.
Fans may recall that during the fourth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Guiao wanted to add the 7-foot-2 Sotto and 6-foot-11 Edu to the expanded pool of the national team. He would also watch Gilas Youth’s practice sessions during that time, as the squad was preparing for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup.
Only Sotto was added to the pool since Edu tore his ACL in Greece.
Currently, the 18-year-old Sotto is set to embark in the G League, while the 20-year-old Edu is making a full recovery and will return to University of Toledo.
The Samahang Baskebol ng Pilipinas, under program director Tab Baldwin, has been preparing for the World Cup as early as last year.
Starting with the 2019 PBA Draft, the national team will have the brightest young talent at their disposal on a full-time basis. This will happen until at least the 2021 Draft.
Currently part of the cadets are Isaac Go, the Nieto Twins, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte. Added later on were Thirdy Ravena, Jaydee Tungcab, Kobe Paras, the Gomez De Liaño brothers, and Dwight Ramos.
But for Guiao, the cadets will be lucky to have one representative in the 2023 Gilas team.
“They will be too young and too raw to be playing in the 2023 World Cup,” Guiao opined.
“Long-term ‘yun and at the same time, ang dami mo pang dadaanan before you can say that these players will be playing at the world level or Asian level. As good as they are, I don’t think they will be ready for the 2023 World Cup. Maybe just one or two of them.”
Guiao does not believe that the cadets program will be a waste, though, even if he thinks the 2023 team will still feature mostly PBA players. Moreover, he believes that Baldwin’s program will be crucial to the development of the players.
“Sa akin, if you’re sending a team just to the windows just to qualify, or maybe the SEA Game… Not even sa Asian Games but just maybe at a certain level, we can use the younger players,” he stressed.
“But if you’re really serious about winning and the level of play is at least Asian level, you can send your best teams and not just the younger players,” he continued.
“The future is bright, but again, you still have to develop a good program, put together a good culture, and keep that team together with everybody cooperating.”