RP team: Who makes the final cut?

The Philippines finished the Jones Cup with a 5-4 win-loss slate and a third place finish. Hardly an accomplishment considering that nine years ago, the RP Centennial team brought home the bacon. The team still has a lot of work to do but you gotta like the progress they made over the last few weeks. They’re still in the running for an Olympic slot but they will face strong competition from Korea, Lebanon, Iran and Jordan. Judging over their Jones Cup performance, the problem with the team is their inability to defend on the post, and inability to get the rebounds. We need more athletic big men on the team (or emphasis on “gang rebounding”) to be able to accomplish our goals. We didn’t have problems with shooting, scoring, and perimeter defense since our guards have shown that they’re up to task, and have displayed remarkable ability to blow by people. So who makes the cut and who does not? Below is my own personal evaluation on who makes the final 12.

Asi Taulava – If not for Asi, we’re probably dead meat. Asi’s boardwork, post defense and intangibles is giving us hope that we can play up to par against the bigs from Jordan, Iran, Lebanon and China. Asi is terribly outmatched in terms of size and athletic ability against Asia’s top big men but he is trying his darnest best to level the competition.

Kelly Williams – He impressed a great deal of observers with his sterling play in the Jones Cup. He gives the team an athletic flavor at the 3 spot. Rebounding and defense is what he brings to the table. Needs to improve perimeter shooting.

Dondon Hontiveros – he’s blamed for RP’s two harrowing losses in the recent Jones Cup but make no mistake about it, this guy can play on both ends of the court. What the coaching staff likes about him is that he can only not score, but also plays hard on the defensive end and can bring the ball down.

Renren Ritualo – he’s purely a one-dimensional player, but one thing he does – shooting – is what is keeping him on the team. He’s Philippine basketball’s best shooter and we’ll need more of his 3-point forays when we battle bigger, better teams in the FIBA tournament.

Mick Pennisi – for a big man he can shoot, and boy! can he shoot with range. Problem is, he’s not athletic enough to be able to wage battle on the boards against 6-10 guys with athletic bodies.

Gabe Norwood – he still has to complete his papers to be able to play in the FIBA-Asia tourney. He gives the team a strong defender on the defender, a versatile talent who can play the point, and another athletic weapon off the bench

Danny Seigle – sat out in the Jones Cup with an injury. He’s the team’s go-to guy. If he played in the Jones Cup, things could have been better for the nationals, who knows?

Kerby Raymundo – he sometimes came to play, and in other games, he simply wasn’t there. He needs to continue to add strength to be a factor inside. He’s calling card is at 6-7, he can play the post, score from the outside, defend, and block shots.

Jayjay Helterbrand – he’s the chief reliever to Jimmy Alapag. He can score, penetrate, dish and has great size and athletic ability at “1”.

Mark Caguioa – he’s the RP team’s number one gunner. he plays with absolutely no conscience, whether it be by shooting from afar, going by defenders inside the lane, and play spot duties at the point. he has no peer when it comes to scoring.

Jimmy Alapag – every team would love to have a pure point guard in its line-up and Jimmy is it. He’s at his best at setting up teammates on the break, shooting from the outside and penetrating to the hole.

On the bubble:

Eric Menk – those injuries are starting to take its toll on Eric. He’s a shadow of what he once was as a player. Can still bang bodies and rebound the basketball. Gone though is his explosiveness on the low post and perimeter shooting. He’s a little undersize to play the 4 spot (but who isn’t anyway?)

Tony de la Cruz – sat out in the Jones Cup. A sharpshooter from mid-range. Works hard, rebounds and handles pressure very well but he is also not athletic and could struggle to defend against quicker and smaller guys on the perimeter.

Nino Canaleta – He lacks strength to be able to be a factor for the team. What he does best is 3-point shooting and score in transition where he can utilize his athletic talents and nimble feet. He’s a longshot to make the team.

Ranidel de Ocampo – he’s a threat to score inside and outside but he’s more of a finesse type and elects to play more on the perimeter. to be able to make the cut, Ranidel has got to put extra effort on the glass, shoot more and defend opposing 3s.

James Yap – Yap actually played well, when he was given minutes on the floor. He’s still one of RP’s better rebounding guards. He can shoot and drive and impose his will against defenders on the perimeter. Yap could make it but he has stiff competition (Ritualo, Hontiveros, Caguioa)