Throughout all the hype, success, scrutiny, and controversy that the Gilas Pilipinas basketball program has received in recent years, one name has constantly been overlooked — Earl Scottie Thompson.
Fresh off a championship and Finals MVP performance in the Commissioner’s Cup, Scottie Thompson has proven that he truly is one of the best young players in the PBA today. The third year guard is as unique of a player as you can find in the league today. He was drafted as a point guard prospect coming out of the University of Perpetual Help System, but he is currently being played off the ball alongside one of the elite point guards of the PBA in L.A. Tenorio, despite not having the shooting and scoring acumen of a typical shooting guard. Yet somehow, Thompson makes it work for himself and for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
So, why isn’t he given the opportunity to see if he can make it work for the national team as well?
Thompson is a low-maintenance, no frills player who just plays the game “the right way” along with some huge doses of hustle and tenacity. No one else in the PBA can get a crowd as pumped up after a rebound.
Scottie "Anong Height Mo?!" Thompson!!!!!💥
— ESPN5 (@Sports5PH) July 23, 2018
New Breed of Player
Despite being an MVP in college and a top five draft pick, Thompson has willingly accepted a supporting role for a loaded Ginebra squad. And even if he is emerging as one of their best players, the way he plays still hasn’t changed. He is a superstar role player — something the star-studded Gilas team can really use.
Players like Calvin Abueva and Marc Pingris were included in previous Gilas teams mainly due to their heart (or puso) and hustle which boost the team’s morale. Unfortunately, their passion for the game sometimes get misdirected and lead to unwanted altercations on the court. These then lead to severe consequences such as technical fouls, ejections, and even bans. Thompson brings that same heart and hustle on the court, but brings it with a calmer no-nonsense demeanor, thus significantly lessening the possibility of those consequences.
Aside from the hustle and rebounding, Scottie Thompson is also a good ball-handler, a crafty playmaker, and a capable scorer when needed. Aside from a consistent outside shot, there really isn’t anything on the basketball court that Thompson cannot do.
The Gilas Pilipinas program is supposed to bring in the best players that can form the best team to represent the country. All of the team’s different coaches have emphasized that they select the members of the team not necessarily by simply selecting the most talented individuals, but by which players can best play the roles needed for the team that the coach envisioned. But as Thompson has proven in his PBA career, he is capable of filling-in different roles for star-studded teams. And at 6’1, he even has the height to compete defensively against most international point guards.
However, the injustice doesn’t lie in Thompson not making it to the final teams. The talent pool of players in the Philippines today is very deep after all, and selecting only 12 players is always going to leave off some deserving names. What is baffling it is that he isn’t even included in any of the national team pools that are given the opportunity to compete for the said 12 slots.
The talent pool is deep, yes, but you cannot tell me that Thompson does not belong with the 23 other names listed in that pool.
Fortunately for Thompson and his supporters, a window of opportunity has opened for him. Due to the brawl between Gilas and the Australian national team during their FIBA Asian Qualifiers match last July 2, several Gilas players have been suspended for a number of FIBA games. Due to the suspension, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will most probably have to come up with new names to include in the pool together with some members of the Gilas Cadets program.
Hopefully this could serve as Thompson’s big break for international duty. And if he does get selected and performs well, then it might just lead to future selections for the PBA’s latest golden boy.
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