After fielding arguably one of the better Gilas Pilipinas lineups in the qualifiers, head coach Chot Reyes is starting to get a good picture at how the national team will look like come the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Photo from FIBA

In fact, barring some unforeseen events in the future, some of the players in the Gilas team that saw action in the fourth window against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are already a shoo-in and will compose the core of the roster in the global showpiece.

“Yes, there’s still some guys we’d like to look at, but by and large, yeah,” said Reyes when asked about the possible core of Gilas for the World Cup next year.

NBA star Jordan Clarkson and 7-foot-3 Adelaide center Kai Sotto are one of those sure-fire picks in the roster as Reyes revealed he had his eyes set on the two as early as 2017 when the country was awarded with co-hosting rights for the World Cup along with Japan and Indonesia.

“When they awarded the hosting rights to us in 2017, our chairman MVP said ‘Chot, you better put a list of players potentially that you can see for 2023’. At the top of my list is Jordan, after that Kai Sotto, so for us to have those two guys here that’s really huge. That was five years ago. We just kinda going with the plan, completing the plan,” shared Reyes.

Clarkson and Sotto, indeed, played beautiful music together in their first time together during the fourth window of the qualifiers – highlighted by a couple of alley-oop plays between the two. The NBA veteran lived up to the billing, averaging 25 points, 6.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds through two games while Sotto impressed with 13 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.

Aside from the two, B.League guard Dwight Ramos and Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar made good accounts of themselves.

Ramos, for one, appeared to be very comfortable playing alongside Clarkson, emerging as the team’s second best scorer with 14.8 points, on top of 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists while Aguilar, a long-time national team player, remains solid with 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds.

“We saw how Dwight and JC played together aside from Kai. So I think that was very important,” said Reyes.

“And we also had the chance to test the versatility of the team, sometimes we’d go big with Kai and Japeth together. Sometimes we’d go regular, or sometimes we’d go small when we don’t have our real power forward or a 4 guy on the floor,” added the Gilas coach.

With still a year to prepare, Reyes looks to build a versatile lineup which can adapt depending on their opponents. The next two windows of the qualifiers in November and February will be a good chance for the veteran coach to test and gauge more players he can possibly add to the final lineup

“I think that’s important moving forward that we become adaptable, that we’re shape-shifters which I’d like to call it, that we can adapt to what the game needs and what the opposition brings to us.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (