Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 FIBA World Cup

Meet the Final 12 of Gilas Pilipinas for the FIBA World Cup 2023

The reconstructed Gilas Pilipinas team, led by NBA legend Jordan Clarkson and a mix of veterans and top current domestic players, is poised to seize the opportunity to defend the country’s home court and compete for an Olympic berth in the Fiba World Cup 2023.

This group of twelve legends, supported by their coaches, will represent the country in its historic role as host of the greatest basketball spectacle after a 45-year gap. Against this backdrop, the Filipino team attempts to defy the odds in Group A, which includes the Dominican Republic under Karl-Anthony Towns, Angola, and the fearsome juggernaut, Italy.

Gilas Pilipinas is seeking not just to advance to the next round – a feat unachieved in the previous two World Cup visits – but also to emerge as the dominant Asian squadron, gaining a straight ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

On a Wednesday, the Philippines wisely cut down their sixteen-man assemblage to the final dozen, ushering in the removal of notables such as Ray Parks Jr., who has traditionally been a consistent contributor to Gilas throughout previous tournaments, Thirdy Ravena, Chris Newsome, and Calvin Oftana.

Due to injury, Carl Tamayo, Jordan Heading, and Poy Erram were forced to withdraw from the Gilas cast. The national team’s foreign-born assets, Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame have graciously accepted Jordan Clarkson’s appointment to represent the country following their outstanding service and significant contributions to the team’s cause.

A detailed introduction to the Final 12 athletes, as well as the Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff for the next World Cup, follows:

Gilas Final 12 Roster

Jordan Clarkson

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Jordan Clarkson

Jordan Clarkson returns to the Gilas Pilipinas squad amid his most important campaign ever.

Clarkson, the country’s naturalized representative, will make his third appearance in national colors, having previously graced the squad at the 2018 Asian Games and in last year’s Asian Qualifier, where he faced Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Clarkson hopes to pick up where he left off, with his last two games delivering a statistical outburst of 25.0 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Clarkson is Gilas’ most decorated naturalized player, having won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award in 2021 and a spot on the 2015 All-Rookie First Team during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers. His basketball journey also included a trip to the 2018 NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who LeBron James then led.

As part of Group A, Clarkson will not be alone in his NBA lineage, sharing the stage alongside fellow NBA legends such as Karl-Anthony Towns from the Dominican Republic and Bruno Fernando from Angola. Furthermore, his Utah Jazz teammate Simone Fontecchio will lead Italy’s campaign, which will take place on August 27 at the Araneta Coliseum.

June Mar Fajardo

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 JMF

June Mar Fajardo, a cornerstone of Gilas Pilipinas, makes his third appearance on the World Cup stage.

Fajardo entered the Gilas camp in 2013, helping the national team’s historic comeback to the World Cup after a 36-year absence. During the 2014 World Cup, he made an everlasting impact by defeating Senegal in Seville, Spain.

In addition to his World Cup accomplishments, Fajardo has proven his worth on the Southeast Asian Games stage, winning gold in 2019 and silver the following year. In addition, a persistent ailment prevented him from competing in a third straight SEA Games.

The reign of the 33-year-old goes beyond international responsibilities. He has won six MVP awards in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and has led the San Miguel Beermen to nine championships. His adventure began with the first choice in the 2012 rookie draft, marking an epic chapter’s beginning.

Dwight Ramos

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Dwight Ramos

Dwight Ramos appears as the lone Gilas representative for all six Asian Qualifier periods, demonstrating his everlasting devotion to the national cause.

During the qualifications, this Filipino-American keeper played a critical role, emerging as one of the top assets. He averaged 12.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 2.1 steals during his ten-game streak.

Ramos hopes to continue his impressive form in his maiden appearance at the FIBA World Cup. He embarked on an unusual path, spending two seasons in Japan’s B.League, first with the Toyama Grouses in the debut season and then with the Levanga Hokkaido.

Jamie Malonzo

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Jamie Malonzo

Jamie Malonzo’s services have been critical in guaranteeing Gilas Pilipinas’ preparation for World Cup introduction, despite needing more clearance to participate as a local player.

The 6-foot-7 forward emerged as a solid addition to the men’s basketball team during the final stages of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers after being sanctioned to participate as a local in June of the previous year.

Malonzo displayed his aerial skill in the final six games of the Gilas season, with an average of 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds. His impressive form was also evident throughout the Philippines’ preparations for the World Cup, which begins on August 25.

Malonzo’s path is full of significant turning points. He was a one-and-done star for La Salle in UAAP Season 82, and his name is carved on the legendary roster. When Northport picked him in the 2020 PBA Draft, his story took a professional turn. His tenure concluded with a Ginebra jersey triumph at the 2022-23 Commissioner’s Cup.

Kai Sotto

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Kai Sotto

Kai Sotto’s first World Cup appearance comes after a brief break due to a back ailment sustained during the NBA Summer League.

The towering 7-foot-3 center from the European camp was absent due to his NBA Summer League engagement with the Orlando Magic. Furthermore, his participation in the China pocket tournament was cut short due to back spasms. His reintegration occurred during the team’s preparation phase in Manila, which included battles against Ivory Coast, Montenegro, and Mexico.

Sotto debuted his senior national team in the 2020 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, followed by the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Indonesia. In his two games in the World Cup Asian qualifiers, he averaged 13 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.

This World Cup campaign marks Sotto’s debut as a senior player, following his involvement in the under-19 division with AJ Edu four years previously. His career began with a spell with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia’s National Basketball League (NBL), followed by a run with the Hiroshima Dragonflies in Japan’s B.League.

AJ Edu

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 AJ Edu

AJ Edu aims to make a successful comeback after suffering knee injuries during his first World Cup appearance.

Following his return from the rigors of a ruptured ACL, meniscus, and a hairline fracture of his right femur experienced during the Under-19 World Cup four years earlier, the towering 6-foot-10 center emerged as a catalyst throughout Gilas’ recent preparatory ventures and training camps.

Edu’s unwavering enthusiasm and dedication culminated in another knee injury in November 2020 while practicing with the University of Toledo men’s basketball team.

As the World Cup approaches, the 23-year-old hopes to offer his towering height to Gilas’ efforts, particularly against the intimidating presence of the Dominican Republic’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Italy’s dynamic squad. Edu will wear the Toyama Grouses shirt in the following league season.

CJ Perez

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 CJ Perez

CJ Perez’s luminosity blossomed within the story of the Gilas Pilipinas’ unsuccessful campaign at the 2019 World Cup, signaling his entrance on the global stage. Perez’s efforts in China saw him average 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists across five games.

A revitalized and reinforced Perez now takes on the task of guiding the Philippines beyond its previous World Cup ventures, a charge backed by his critical position as a significant character for the San Miguel Beermen, helping them win the 2022 Philippine Cup.

Perez, the 2019 PBA Rookie of the Year and a valued part of the Mythical First Team traveled from Terrafirma to San Miguel. The reclaiming of the gold medal in the 2023 Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia was unquestionably the highlight of his domestic adventure.

During World Cup preparations, Perez competed in the Asian Qualifiers, averaging 8.3 points, 2.5 assists, and 2.0 rebounds per game.

Scottie Thompson

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Scottie Thompson

Scottie Thompson’s rise through the PBA levels coincides with his World Cup debut.

Thompson is a well-known character in the Barangay Ginebra organization, having won the 2021 PBA MVP award, seven PBA titles, and two Finals MVP awards.

The dynamic guard demonstrated his international talent by participating in six games during the second round of the FIBAWorld Cup Asian qualifiers. Thompson’s contributions during this time were 6.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game.

Thompson’s persistence will be tested as he seeks revenge for a less-than-favorable finish in a previous Fiba window game, punctuated by significant free-throw misses in a close 91-90 defeat to Jordan. His undying dedication to the Philippine cause was evident even when he suffered a hand injury during the Gilas’ European training camp.

Japeth Aguilar

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Japeth

Japeth Aguilar, named captain, sets off on the World Cup adventure, intending to lead by example. Aguilar is the Gilas Pilipinas fraternity’s longest-serving member, dating back to the commencement of Gilas 1 in 2009.

His legacy has been woven into the fabric of crucial moments, such as the national squad’s comeback to the World Cup in 2013 after a 36-year absence, the succeeding World Cup appearance, and the conquest of gold at the Southeast Asian Games in 2019. As the curtain rises on the World Cup, Aguilar’s historic trek towards a probable third consecutive World Cup berth gains traction.

Aguilar, a Barangay Ginebra mainstay, has left an everlasting legacy that includes eight titles, a Finals MVP during the 2019 Governors’ Cup, three Mythical First Team choices, and an equal number of All-Defensive Team nominations. This next voyage might end a decade-long association with the Gin Kings.

Kiefer Ravena

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Khiefer

Kiefer Ravena, known for his steadfast devotion to the national flag, hopes to expand his contributions during his second World Cup appearance.

The 29-year-old point guard has written his story inside Gilas, including the 2019 World Cup and a prolific run of Southeast Asian Games gold, despite relinquishing silver at the previous biennial meet in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Despite a suspension in 2018 due to a positive Fiba test for prohibited drugs, Ravena’s unwavering dedication to the national cause resulted in his participation in the 2019 World Cup in China.

Ravena also led the Philippines to victory in the Fiba Asia Cup, and his performances in six World Cup qualifiers featured averages of 6.2 points and 2.5 assists.

Ravena’s expedition took him into international waters while he worked for the Shiga Lakes for two seasons in Japan. Since being taken as the second overall choice in the 2017 draft, the seasoned campaigner has worn the NLEX Road Warriors uniform in the local PBA setting.

Rhenz Abando

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Rhenz Abando

Rhenz Abando’s remarkable climb continues as he begins his World Cup journey.

Abando, a 25-year-old legend, has significantly impacted the Gilas preparations, strengthened by his championship victory with Anyang KGC in the Korean Basketball League.

Abando made his basketball mark with his remarkable rookie year with the University of Santo Tomas in 2019, culminating in a UAAP Season 82 finals trip. But fate interfered, cutting short his promising voyage owing to the Sorsogon bubble amid the COVID-19 epidemic.

Abando’s journey to Letran added to his list of successes, as he delivered outstanding performances there. His debut in the Korean Basketball League was marked with a championship victory.

Abando’s contributions extend to international venues, as seen by his involvement in the FIBA Asia Cup. While his participation in the World Cup qualifiers was limited to two games, his contributions totaled an average of 6.5 points per game.

RR Pogoy

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 RR Pogoy

Roger Pogoy, spurred by a desire for redemption, starts on his second World Cup voyage, hoping to improve on a disappointing performance four years earlier.

The TNT marksman hopes to put his failures from the previous World Cup behind him as he seeks atonement in his second appearance. Pogoy’s contributions to the 2019 global spectacle came from a modest average of 4.0 points throughout five games.

Pogoy’s ability continues beyond the World Cup to the Asian qualifications, when he averaged a respectable 9.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game.

Pogoy, named PBA Rookie of the Year in 2017, has had a successful domestic career, highlighted by two championship victories, including TNT’s Governors’ Cup title.

Gilas Head Coach

Coach Chot Reyes

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Coach Chot Reyes

Chot Reyes starts on a World Cup voyage, hoping to outperform his previous effort in Seville, Spain. An engagement in which the force he led made a brave fight despite winning only one battle.

In his second World Cup, the seasoned coach hopes to take Gilas beyond the preliminary round, assuming the title of the finest Asian team and winning an outright spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Reyes’ journey captures an essential chapter in Philippine basketball, highlighted by a silver medal in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship – a triumphant return to the global stage after a 36-year absence.

Moving forward, Reyes reacted to the clarion call issued during the Gilas-Australia incident in 2018, returning as Gilas coach in January of the following year. His return signaled the start of a comeback odyssey that culminated in reclaiming the SEA Games gold in Cambodia.

Tim Cone

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Coach Tim Cone

Coach Tim Cone, a symbol of unequaled coaching success in the PBA, is on the sidelines with Reyes, attempting to overcome chances in the World Cup.

The unequaled treasure trove of 25 championships, including two Grand Slams, reunites with the national cause during the Asian qualifications, contributing his experience to advance the program’s objectives.

Cone’s national story is characterized by landmarks, notably a bronze medal with the Philippine Centennial squad at the 1998 Asian Games and a triumphal gold medal in the 2019 SEA Games. His venture also crossed boundaries, as he aided the Miami Heat during the NBA Summer League in 2022.

Jong Uichico

Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 Coach Jong Uichico

Jong Uichico and Reyes have had a symbiotic relationship since 2013, when they finished second in the FIBA Asia Championship in Manila, breaking a 36-year World Cup drought.

This is Uichico’s second World Cup appearance, following his debut campaign in 2002 when the national team finished fourth.

Uichico’s strategic leadership has earned him plaudits, including leading the national team to SEA Games gold medals in 2013 and 2017. Furthermore, he served as a national coach for the previous two biennial events, helping to silver and gold medals in Vietnam and Cambodia, respectively.

Uichico’s history as a 61-year-old strategist is highlighted by a nine-time PBA championship run, supplemented by two Coach of the Year awards during his stint with San Miguel, Ginebra, and TNT.

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