Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario make their return to the player pool of the Philippine National Men’s Basketball team for the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 6, coach Joseller ‘Yeng’ Guiao named Castro and Rosario part of the national pool even though both players will still remain suspended when Gilas Pilipinas faces Kazakhstan on Nov. 30, and can only play during the match against Iran on Dec. 3. Both games will take place at the Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City.
Also included in the player pool approved by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the Philippine Basketball Association are June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter who were excluded from the previous window due to injuries.
The player pool is also composed of Japeth Aguilar, Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee, Alex Cabagnot, Matthew Wright, Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, and Poy Erram
Meanwhile, naturalized player Andray Blatche was left out of the player pool even though his three – game suspension will also come to an end after the Nov. 30 game.
Instead, Guiao will be choosing between Fil – German Chrisitan Standhardinger and Fil – American Stanley Pringle to fill in the sole slot for a naturalized player allowed by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
Gilas cadets Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero complete the 20 players included in the national pool that will be reduced to 12 prior the games against Kazakhstan and Iran.
Guiao announced that the pool will start practicing next week in a Monday – Wednesday – Friday format until the PBA suspends the 2018 Governor’s Cup to give way to the Asian Qualifiers. During the break, Gilas Pilipinas will have daily practices.
As part of their preparations, the Philippine team will have practice games against Jordan on Nov. 19 and 21, and Lebanon on Nov. 23 and 25. All four matches will happen at the Meralco Gym in Pasig.
Guiao said that they will cut down the national team pool to 15 players before the start of the practice games.