Ex-Gilas stalwarts de Ocampo, Norwood impressed by current national team roster

Gilas Pilipinas walked away as the victors of the 2017 SEABA Championships in Manila after a dominant 97-64 win over Indonesia on Thursday, May 18 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, in the process stamping their class as the undisputed kings of the Southeast Asian region.

There to witness Gilas celebrate another SEABA title are former national team members Ranidel de Ocampo and Gabe Norwood, who took the time to visit Gilas’ dugout before the match started.

Even with a relatively lighter competition, Norwood said Gilas came out impressive and performed at their own level.

“It’s impressive. Not anything to say about the competition but you still have to come out and do it. They came out and they performed, they put on a show and they won,” he said.

De Ocampo echoed the same sentiments.

“Binigay nila yung best nila. Nakita mo yung will nila kahit alam nila na yung mga kalaban natin kayang kaya,” de Ocampo said. “Nirespeto nila yung kalaban, nirespeto nila yung basketball. Nagsimula yung nung nila yung mga teammates nila, yung coaches nila, yung buong team. Malaking bagay yun.”

They weren’t the only former Gilas players who spent time to watch games live. Marc Pingris also visited a couple of days back.

Norwood even added he was a “little bit” surprised to see Gilas pull away right in the very first quarter of the game.

Gilas took a 34-14 advantage after the opening period were never really threatened throughout the contest.

“I tried to do a little research on the teams so kind of expected a tighter game early on,” Norwood shared.

The two veterans also praised the current crop of guys playing their positions. Norwood spoke highly of Gilas wing men Allein Maliksi, Roger Pogoy, Calvin Abueva, and Matthew Wright while de Ocampo noted Japeth Aguilar and Troy Rosario are already battle-tested.

“Si Japeth si Troy nakita ko talagang andiyan na sila. Talagang sila na yung maglalaro dyan ng matagal so i-treasure nila yung moment na yun,” de Ocampo said.

“They can definitely shoot the ball better than me,” Norwood joked. “They know what they’re on the team for. They came out and shot, made it difficult for the other team. It was exciting to see those variety in the wings. Calvin is an energy guy, Matt is probably the most pure shooter when he gets hot, and Allein, he is a dangerous scorer.”

Even with this version of Gilas opting to go a bit younger given the changes in the FIBA qualification system, they think the program is still in good hands.

“It is a good step forward in terms of the mix, you have young guys who came in and all of them contributed and played well, then you have leaders the came in. It’s a process,” Norwood said.

“Oo, oo. Tuloy-tuloy lang ang sakripisyo,” de Ocampo added.

Written by Levi Verora Jr
Photos by Glenn Michael Tan

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