AFTER the NBA, the EuroLeague has always been considered the second-best league in the world as it is headlined by top-tier European players and former NBA cagers.
Known for their emphasis on ball/player movement and precise execution, the Europeans have done an admirable job on staying at the upper echelon of the basketball’s pantheon.
Given on how basketball-crazy we are, having a Filipino to possibly play in the EuroLeague isn’t a far-fetched idea. Just ask Kai Sotto.
Today, we examined some of Filipino ballers who have the talent to play in the EuroLeague.
Despite being banned from all FIBA-sanctioned events due to violation of the anti-doping policy, Ravena’s array of skills shouldn’t be questioned, especially when he was picked #2 overall in last year’s PBA Draft. The former Blue Eagle is quite an adept playmaker, especially in transition where his craftiness could open up opportunities for himself and his teammates. He is an elite shot creator and he has also shown the capability to carry a team as he did with the NLEX Road Warriors in this year’s All-Filipino Cup, towing them all the way to the semi finals.
Already familiar with the international game, Ravena tried his luck in the NBA G-League as a developmental player for the Texas Legends and has been a mainstay for the national team program. His height may leave a lot to be desired, but he could make up for that with his speed and a reliable outside shot.
Spending most of his early life in Italy, Dalph Panopio has developed into one of Europe’s up-and-coming talents. In fact, he was talented enough to be courted by the Italian national team — to no avail, of course, as he decided to bring his talents here in the archipelago.
The 18-year-old floor general is standing at 6’1” and is already oozing with basketball IQ. He is quick enough to beat his defender off the dribble and could pull up from deep. Playing for the Stellazzurra Basketball Academy, he was able to lead his team to a national title back in 2015 and he has also competed against some of the best young European standouts at the EuroLeague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Serbia last May, posting norms of 17.8 points, 5.5 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals. It will be only a matter of time where the Fil-Italian could be a regular, playing against the big boys in the EuroLeague.
Standing tall at 6’10”, AJ Edu is currently one of the best young prospects our country has to offer. The highly-touted Fil-Nigerian is a mobile big man who is great at creating havoc on the defensive end. Not only does he make others think twice at getting into the paint, he has shown vast improvements on offense as well by showing off a mid-range game while using his athleticism to finish well down low.
His efforts have attracted interests from countries like Cyprus and England but in the end, he decided to play for Team Pilipinas. As he continues to develop as one of the top young big men, for sure his stock will skyrocket for the foreseeable future — especially if he develops a deadly three-point shot.
Prior to making his name here in the Philippines, San Miguel rookie Christian Standhardinger has had an extensive international resume by playing in the US, Germany, and for Hong Kong in the ABL. The Fil-German is a hard-nosed forward who could bully his way in the paint or could hit the occasional outside shot. He is at his best primarily in the pick-and-roll, where he could set a screen and make plays on offense — all of which as to why he was selected #1 overall in last year’s PBA Draft.
However, despite his already vaunted skill set, he looks to further improve on other aspects. But with him at his prime and his success in the international level, he should definitely garner some interest in possibly playing back home.
June Mar Fajardo
Another San Miguel player makes it in the list in the four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo. It’s no secret as to why the towering pride of Cebu has been dominant in the league for quite some time as his power and post skills are unstoppable and are envied by his counterparts. Once he gets position inside, it’s over for the defense as he easily gets an easy deuce. On the rebounds, boxing him out is always a nightmare given his length and hefty frame. He has shown his prowess in the mid-range as well, knocking down jumpers when left wide open.
Currently at the peak of his powers, entertaining international offers should be at least on his mind if he wants to prove himself even more. After all, facing elite talent in Europe, or even in the NBA, would boost his growth as a player overall.