All Roads Lead to Manila: Gilas Entry #8 – Sonny Disposition

When Sonny Thoss was named to the Powerade Team Pilipinas for the 2009 FIBA Asia Men’s championships in Tianjin, China, a lot of people felt he would be the heir apparent to Asi Taulava. Many felt he had the size and the skills to become the Philippines’s next star big man in the international game.

Sonny Thoss was once considered the most promising
young big man in the PBA.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/InterAKTV)

In Thoss’s first two games at the 2009 FIBA Asia, he did pretty well, averaging 13.0ppg, 5.5rpg, and 1.0bpg as Team Pilipinas won over Sri Lanka and Japan. His performance against Japan was especially good. He helped defend against the vaunted Takeuchi twins and forced them into a combined 7-of-25 FG shooting.

Things, however, went downhill fast both for Thoss and the team.

Powerade Team Pilipinas went 2-4 in its next 6 games, with Thoss’s numbers sinking – 3.5ppg and 4.5rpg, including a big fat egg against the Qataris in the consolation round. Overall, the Pinoys finished a disappointing 8th out of 16 teams, with Thoss underwhelming in his international debut. His 15 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in the battle for 7th place was good, but he was overshadowed by Korea’s 22-year old wunderkind, Oh Se-Keun, who dropped 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks on Thoss and the rest of the Pinoy frontline. Curiously enough, both Thoss and Oh are of exactly the same size (6’7”) and built.

His performance was all a little surprising, since the 2008-2009 PBA season was one of Thoss’s most productive yet. Look at the numbers below:

2008-2009 PBA averages: 8.6ppg, 6.5rpg, 1.0bpg, 54.8 FG%
2009 FIBA Asia averages: 6.9ppg, 4.8rpg, 48.3 FG% in 9 games

Not surprisingly, and because of the change in framework in the national team program, Thoss was passed up in the initial Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the 2010 Asian Games and 2011 FIBA Asia Championships in Wuhan, China.

Despite this, Thoss, nicknamed “The Boss,” remained one of the top local bigs in the pro circuit. He actually had his real breakout season in 2011-2012, when he normed 12.5ppg, 8.3rpg, 2.1apg, and 1.2bpg while shooting nearly 46% from the field.

Perhaps it’s these numbers that pushed the Gilas backers to place Thoss back in the NT in the middle of last year. Thoss was named to the 2012 Gilas Pilipinas team, coached by Chot Reyes, that played in the 2012 SEABA Stankovic Qualifying Cup in Thailand, the 2012 Jones Cup in Taiwan, and the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup in Japan.

Gilas eventually did well, copping the SEABA and Jones Cup titles before finishing fourth in the FIBA Asia Cup. Thoss’s main assignment this time around was not to be the focal point of the low post offense, but to be the chief back-up of naturalized big man Marcus Douthit. Of course, this had an adverse effect on Thoss’s production, since Douthit played upwards of 30 minutes per game.

Thoss (L) with LA Tenorio (M) and Mac Baracael (R)
after winning the 2012 SEABA Stankovic Qualifying Cup.
(image by Josh Reyes)

From one of the most promising young big men in the Philippines, Thoss was seemingly demoted to a mere “reliever.” His stats reflected this decline:

2012 Jones Cup averages: 3.3ppg, 3.9rpg, 35.3 FG%
2012 FIBA Asia Cup averages: 0.9ppg, 2.3rpg, 20.0 FG%

If one takes those numbers into consideration and couples them with the reality that the Gilas pool now has a few other quality big men like June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter, not to mention other players like Japeth Aguilar, Marc Pingris, and Ranidel De Ocampo, the prospect of Thoss making the final national team lineup for the third straight time seems significantly diminished.

Still, Sonny maintains a sunny (pun!) disposition about the Gilas program, as reflected in the following short interview during this past Monday’s practice:

Hoop Nut: How do you feel that you've been selected to the national pool again?
Sonny Thoss: Honored. It's always a privilege to play for the NT.

HN: How was your experience in the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup?
ST: It was a good experience. I learned a lot playing against a lot of bigger and better players.

HN: How different is this team from the previous NTs you were a part of?
ST: Well, obviously it's the size. We have so many big guys in this team. They will help us match up better with other teams, and they will give Marcus more time to rest.

HN: How do you feel about playing at home?
ST: It's definitely a major factor. When we play abroad, there aren't so many people cheering for us. In fact, most of the time we just have each other in the team, but now we'll have the crowd on our side every single game. Another thing is the environment. The other teams will have to adjust to our climate and the environment in general. It's a big adjustment for them.

HN: Who would be our toughest competition in the tournament?
ST: Iran and China definitely, but we also cannot discount other teams like Korea, Japan, Lebanon, and Chinese Taipei. We're really going to take everyone seriously.

HN: If we manage to get a slot in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, how big will that be for the Philippines?
ST: Oh it's going to be really big. It will put Philippine basketball back in the map and we'll get a lot more respect.

As of now, Thoss is still doing well in the PBA, in spite of the presence of towering imports. His current 2012-2013 PBA averages are: 8.9ppg, 5.8rpg, 1.7apg, 0.8bpg, and 48.4% FG shooting. If, indeed, he makes it to the final roster, I’m pretty sure the 31-year old will be raring to perform well and fulfill the promise of his potential.


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2 Comment

Admin Enzo,noon ko pa talaga napapansin na malamya ang laro ni Sonny sa international games,lalo na sa FIBA.pero bakit ang galing nya naman mag match up sa mga import bigs ng comms cup nung 37th season at khit ngayong 38th season.naaalala ko pa nga ung pump fake low nya against Denzel Bowles nung 37th season eh,tlagang napakagat si denzel.grabe ang post moves no Sonny,i wish sana 6'9 sya then he'll be dominating FIBA ASIA and PBA.pero iba na si Sonny ngaun eh,talagang hungrier na cya maglaro sa PBA simula nung stint nya sa NT.alam ko ibibigay ni sonny lahat pag nasama sya sa final roster.believe me admin!


Sonny ?

Sonny Cabatu ?