PBA: For Ganuelas-Rosser brothers, being Gilas teammates would be ultimate dream

Rey Joble

Posted at Jan 30 2022 03:27 PM

Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser could only watch in envy his older brother, Matt, when he played for the Gilas Pilipinas men's national basketball team and represented the country in major international tournaments.

Matt relished the opportunity playing for the national team as early as 10 years ago when he first saw action for Gilas at the 2012 William Jones Cup, an event won by the Philippines.

Since then, he had been a part of the Gilas Pilipinas program all the way to 2015 when Tab Baldwin took over as coach of the squad.

"It was an experience like no other, especially playing and winning for Gilas," said the elder Ganuelas-Rosser. "It's really like no other. The pride you had and the support we received."

"Wherever we went, you can see the support. I played in a tournament in Estonia. There were only three Filipino fans there, but they were there, they came and supported us. You just felt proud and you wanted to give your all and leave everything out there on the court. In my whole basketball career, that was probably my brightest spot, being able to represent the country and having success."

The younger brother could only wish to follow in his footsteps, but will have to wait for the perfect opportunity before it happens.

"I still remember seeing him putting on the Gilas jersey (2012) in the Jones Cup. It was inspiring, for sure," said Brandon. "We always knew about our Filipino heritage, how much the Filipino people love basketball.

"To see Matt being immersed to it, being embraced, it was really cool. When I saw it, for sure, I also wanted to be a part of it."

Tapping the younger Ganuelas-Rosser to play for the Philippine team would be easy, but he needs to go through technicalities, especially in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments. 

Unlike Matt, who was born in the Philippines, Brandon was born in the United States, making his eligibility more complicated.

The closest thing for the younger Ganuelas-Rosser representing the Philippines was playing for the Alab Pilipinas team in the ASEAN Basketball League and representing a Filipino club. 

"I literally had a good conversation with my good friend, Jordan Heading, who is in the Gilas pool. I was laughing and told him, 'Man, I wish I could join there and play with you guys for Gilas.' Obviously, the circumstances are a little different. Matt was born here in the Philippines, I was born in the States. There are hurdles I have to jump through," Brandon said.

"But it would be an honor for sure. Even for Alab, it's like a mini-Gilas. We represented the country for the ABL and like Matt said, there were Filipino fans all over the world, especially Southeast Asia, so it would be something really cool to do and have the Philippines across my chest. 

"Hopefully, I can make that happen."

Hope springs eternal, however, for Brandon's wish to play for the Philippines as there's a more lenient rule for players such as him representing the country in the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games level, which have their own set of rules for players of mixed heritage.

In 2018, NBA star Jordan Clarkson played for the Philippines at the Asian Games while players such as Chris Ross, Stanley Pringle and Christian Standhardinger easily crack the national squad without much difficulty when it comes to eligibility and saw action in the SEA Games.

"I'm looking at a tournament where Chris Ross was able to play, that would be nice. SEA Games would be pretty cool," said Brandon.

The elder Ganuelas-Rosser is hoping that they'll be given an opportunity playing together for the Philippine flag and it would be a dream come true for both of them.

"Bring both of us in there," said Matt.