THE Gilas Pilipinas will be heading to Beirut, Lebanon for the FIBA-Asia Cup scheduled August 8-20 without their naturalized player Andray Blatche – who earlier reported to skip the tournament due security reason.
In his Twitter account, national team head coach Chot Reyes announced the 12-man team which will carry the national colors in this tournament to be played at the Nouhad Nawfal Stadium. The tournament will also determine the composition of the joint FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
The 12-man team includes Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Junemar Fajardo, Carl Bryan Cruz and Christian Stanhardinger.
Without Blatche, Fajardo and Aguilar will be Gilas’ tallest players on the court at 6’11 and 6’9, respectively, as Almazan and Standhardinger backstopped the Filipino squad ceiling at 6’8 each.
Though the absence of Blatche in the roster may leave a spot of a multi-role player, the addition of Pogoy, Wright, Romeo and Cruz could fill-up the outside weaponry of Gilas. Also, it will give its big men the opportunity to step-up and play a higher level of basketball – wherein both Fajardo and Aguilar played the huge game against Korea during the 2013 FIBA Asia tournament in Manila after their naturalized player Marcus Douthit got injured.
Meanwhile, veteran guards Castro and Norwood are expected to take leadership roles in the team.
The Philippines is in Group B alongside China, Iraq, and Qatar. Completing the groupings are Group A – Iran, Jordan, Syria and India; Group C – host Lebanon, Korea, Kazakhstan and New Zealand; and Group D – Japan, Hongkong, Chinese Taipei and Australia.
On the other hand, a separate Gilas team is also bound for the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur from August 19-30, 2017.
Expected to anchor the defending champion Gilas Pilipinas are Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks Jr. and Kobe Paras alongside other Gilas Cadet players.
Gilas is in Group A with host-Malaysia, Thailand, and Myanmar while Group B has Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, and Vietnam.*