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Meet the Gilas Pilipinas final 12 for FIBA World Cup 2023

By Christian Magdaraog and Levi Rose Magbayao Published Aug 24, 2023 6:05 pm

Filipinos have been swept up in the excitement for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Together with the rest of the world, the Pinoy fans are eager to see who will rise to the top in what is set to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.

The tournament begins on Aug. 25 at the Philippine Arena, and the Philippines' final 12 roster was revealed on Wednesday. Aug. 23 by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

The Gilas Pilipinas team, headed by coach Chot Reyes, consists of World Cup first-timers and veterans. These hoopers are expected to prove themselves and bring honor to their homeland: the Philippines.

Get to know them below.

Rhenz Abando

Position: Shooting Guard

25-year-old Rhenz Abando rose to fame as a member of the San Juan Knights, where he was named the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in 2021.

In 2022, Abando joined the national team for the first time in a friendly game against South Korea.

He's currently signed with Anyang KGC, a Korean professional basketball club in Anyang City. His notable achievement lately includes winning the Korean Basketball League championship in 2023.

Japeth Aguilar

Position: Point Forward

Japeth Aguilar is arguably one of the team's most established names. His athletic career includes seven consecutive championship wins in the PBA and six MVP awards.

Aguilar also showed Pinoy pride, having represented the Philippines in several international tournaments, including the FIBA Asia Championship, the FIBA World Cup, and the Olympics.

He was born in Sasmuan, Pampanga to a former PBA player named Peter Aguilar.

Jordan Clarkson 

Position: Point Guard, Shooting Guard

Jordan Clarkson is a naturalized player for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. He exhibited his dynamic scoring as a shooting guard for teams he had played for in the National Basketball Association such as the Lakers, Cavaliers, and Utah Jazz.

In August 2018, the Senate approved his mother's petition to make him a naturalized citizen of the Philippines.

Ariel John Edu

Position: Point Forward

Although born in Cyprus, Ariel John Edu's Filipino citizenship made him eligible to play for the national team.

He started playing professionally for Toyama Grouses, a Japanese professional basketball team in the Central Conference of the B.League. He made his debut in the Philippines during the 2018 FIBA Under-18 Asian Championship. 

His father, Ayotunde Edu, was a former basketball player in Nigeria before becoming a high school coach in Wales, UK.

June Mar Fajardo

Position: Center

June Mar Fajardo is one of the most recognizable athletes in the basketball industry not only for his height but for his skills, too.

As a basketball professional, he made history as the first person to win the PBA Most Valuable Player award in six consecutive seasons. He was also a 9x PBA champion starting in 2014, which proved him formidable among his contemporaries. 

Jamie Malonzo 

Position: Small Forward

Jamie Malonzo is the son of an African-American father and Filipino mother who hails from Batangas.

He is known for his high-flying dunks and athletic plays that caught the attention of fans and the basketball community. He received the UAAP Season 82 Rookie of the Year award and was part of the Mythical Five during his first year playing for the De La Salle University Green Archers. 

CJ Perez

Position: Shooting Guard, Small Forward

CJ Perez played for the San Miguel Beermen in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), Lyceum Pirates, and Columbian Dyip. He was named PBA's Rookie of the Year in 2019.

Roger Ray Pogoy 

Position: Shooting Guard, Small Forward

Born in Minglanilla, Cebu, Roger Pogoy of the TNT Tropang Giga was taught basketball by his father, who was also a basketball player in Mindanao. 

His basketball journey began as part of the Junior Webmasters at the University of Cebu. Since then, he has garnered various awards and accolades in his career, such as PBA Rookie of the Year in 2017 and PBA Champions in 2021 and 2023. Pogoy also received a silver medal in the 31st South East Asian Games.

Kiefer Ravena 

Position: Point Guard

As someone who grew up in a family full of athletes, Kiefer Ravena has strived to build his own name in the sports industry. Aside from getting the Rookie of the Year award in UAAP Season 77, and MVP awards during the UAAP Seasons 77 and 78, Ravena also won four gold medals at the Southeast Asian Games as a member of the Gilas Cadets.

Dwight Ramos 

Position: Point Guard 

Dwight Ramos is a Filipino-American basketball player who played for Toyama Grouses and Levanga Hokkaido of the Japanese B.League. He showed skills and versatility on the court when he played for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifier match against Indonesia where the Philippines won 100–70 in that match with him contributing 5 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals.

Kai Sotto

Position: Center

Known for his incredible height, rising star Kai Sotto—who stands 7'3"— instantly became popular at such a young age.

He represented the national team during the 2017 SEABA Under-16 Championship, where his team won a gold medal. At 14, Sotto earned the Rookie of the Year award after playing for the Ateneo Blue Eagles in high school.

In 2020, he signed with the NBA G League, a minor league organization of the National Basketball Association.

Sotto also came from a family of basketball players. His father, Ervin and grandfather Ranidel de Ocampo were professional PBA players. 

Scottie Thompson

Position: Shooting Guard

Filipino professional basketball player Scottie Thompson rose to prominence while playing for the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas in the NCAA, where he was named the Most Valuable Player in Season 93 and Mythical Five.

In 2015, he was drafted by the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the second round. Thompson helped his team win the PBA championship in 2016.

His father, Joseph Thompson, is also a former PBA player.