It is no longer a surprise when Talk ‘N Text combo guard Jayson Castro rattled the names of Mark Barroca of Purefoods Star and JVee Casio of Alaska as potential members of the soon-to-be-revamped Gilas Pilipinas roster for the 2015 Fiba-Asia men’s cage championships in China.
Both guards are original members of the Smart Gilas squad that played under Serbian coach Rajko Toroman from 2009 to 2011.
Casio was the starting playmaker for Toroman, with Barroca his chief backup during the three-year program that back then, eyed a berth in the 2012 London Olympics.
Smart Gilas, though, fell short in the Olympic-qualifying tournament, the 2011 Fiba-Asia men’s championships, losing to Jordan in the semifinals, 75-61, before bowing to South Korea, 70-68 in the bronze medal battle.
That original Smart Gilas squad had since been dismantled as its players moved up to the PBA. Casio, Barroca, Mac Baracael, Chris Tiu, Dylan Ababou, Jayson Ballesteros, Greg Slaughter, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz all joined the draft from 2011 onwards.
Three years since Barroca and Casio moved up to the pros, we’ve seen how these two former UAAP standouts made names for themselves.
Barroca is coming off a fruitful year last season, bagging his first PBA Finals MVP during the Philippine Cup and helping San Mig (Purefoods Stars’ former name) win the franchise’s first-ever grand slam championship.
Last season saw him make it to the Mythical First team for the first time in his young career, along with the distinction of being part of the elite All-Defensive team.
Meantime, Casio, the top pick in the 2011 PBA draft, played a key role in Alaska’s championship conquest of last year’s Commissioner’s Cup. He is also one of the league’s deadliest clutch shooters.
Given their experience in international play, including both guards in the Gilas pool would greatly help the national team’s campaign in the future owing to their hustle, ability to slash to the basket or even score big from the outside.
In the recent Gilas batch, Alaska didn’t have a representative due to the team’s commitment to improve on its PBA campaign.
Purefoods’ had forward Marc Pingris as its contribution to the national squad.
With the upcoming new-edition Gilas, the only question is, will Alaska and Purefoods allow Casio and Barroca, respectively to play for the national team?