Naturalized player Andray Blatche will not suit up for the upcoming fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers after being excluded from the national team player pool unveiled on Tuesday, Nov. 06.
According to coach Joseller ‘Yeng’ Guiao, they made the ‘hard decision’ of not including Blatche to the 20-man player pool due to numerous considerations including the chemistry and bond built during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, and the fourth window of the Asian Qualifiers.
In the said games, Fil-German Christian Standhardinger and Fil – American Stanley Pringle served as the naturalized player of Gilas Pilipinas due to the three – game suspension imposed on Blatche by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The sanctions stemmed from the in-game brawl between the national teams of Philippines and Australia last July.
“There is a really strong bond among the members and we wanted to preserve that chemistry and that bond,” Guiao said during a press conference on Tuesday,
Guiao also explained that they are faced with limitations in utilizing Blatche who will remain suspended during the game against Kazakhstan on Nov. 30 and can only play in the match against Iran on Dec. 3. Both games will happen in Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City.
Furthermore, the veteran coach mentioned that Standhardinger produced ‘numbers that cannot be argued against’ when he played during the Asian Games and in the September 13 loss against Iran during the fourth window.
“He (Standhardinger) deserve a strong consideration in the line – up,” Guiao added.
Aside from Blatche, another noticeable absentee from the line – up is Gilas Pilipinas veteran Terrence Romeo, who will finish serving his suspension after the Nov. 30 game.
“There is just too much talent in this team, especially in the guard position,” Guiao said regarding the exclusion of the Romeo in the Philippine National Men’s Basketball team player pool.
Guiao assured that Blatche and Romeo will be considered for the sixth window on February 2019 since both of them will no longer serve any suspensions and can play in both of the away games against Qatar and Kazakhstan.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Alfredo Panlilo also hoped that Blatche will remain ‘in shape’ for the next window.
“We appreciate the contributions of Andray,” Panlilo said during the press conference. “All we can ask of him is to keep in shape. The next pool is not too far.”
Guiao admitted that the absence of Blatche from the line – up will be an experiment whether the Philippine team can compete against the best while relying only on players with Filipino blood.
“Siguro kapag nakita natin na nahihirapan tayo at hindi natin kaya, he (Blatche) is always there as an option,” Guiao said.
Prior the announcing of the player pool, Blatche has already expressed his readiness to return to the Philippine team. He even posted pictures of him during the previous games of the national team in his Instagram account, and captioned it with ‘war ready waiting on that phone call for these two upcoming games’.
Meanwhile, Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario has been given a slot in the national team pool even though both players can only play in the Dec. 3 game.
They are joined by Standhardinger, Pringle, June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee, Alex Cabagnot, Matthew Wright, Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga, and Poy Erram.
Gilas cadets Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero have also been included to the national team pool.