Philippines, 28 Jan 2023
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Give Filipinos a break - Guiao


PhilBoxing.com




Are Philippine basketball?s days of relying on naturalized players to reinforce our national teams in international commitments, which, in the first place remained an exercise in futility, and, in addition, has given the country embarrassment, over?

National coach Yeng Guiao?s decision to exclude naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche look headed to that direction. The feisty mentor of the North Expressway squad in the PBA early this week released his list of 20-player national pool for the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers without the name of Blatche, who, until suspended following that shameful players fight has marked the Philippine-Australia game last July here has been a member of team Pilipinas.

Guiao, a multi-titled coach in the country?s play-for-pay league, admitted his decision to drop the former NBA campaigner from the PH upcoming qualifying date with Kazakhstan and Iran is sort of experiment and a chance for big men June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar and Poy Erram to prove that a purely all-Filipino lineup can stand its ground against the best, the tallest and heftiest in the continent.

?Can we play against the best? Say we play against the Iranians with their big guys without Blatche,? Guiao asked. But if we have June Mar, we have Gregc and we have Christian, Japeth and Poy and the rest of our guys. At least lahat sila may dugong Pinoy, di ba?

?Baka kaya nating mga PInoy,? Coach Yeng said by way of explaining his decision to those who oppose his action. ?Kung hind saka na lang tayo magpatulong. Pero kung kaya natin, kayanin natin (If we can?t he that?s time to ask for help. If we can, then let?s do it.)?

For at least a decade or so, he Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has been seeking the help of foreign players, mostly retired or inactive NBA veterans to augment participation in international competitions, making them acquire citizenship through congressional verdict to no avail.

The highest the Philippines could accomplish since availing the FIBA-sanctioned scheme was a second place finish in 2015 FIBA Asia championship behind eventual champion China, which being the host of the subsequent World Championship made them automatic qualifier and making the country advance to the world tournament.

Marcus Douthit as the Philippines? naturalized reinforcement in both FIBA Asia and world tourneys. We beat Iran, by the way in he FIBA Asia en route to the World Cup.

Blatche, who was then seeking action as an import in the Chinese pro-league, came as the country?s naturalized import for the 2014 Asian Games in Korea after also gaining citizenship through the act of congress but was unable to play for lack of residency requirements, a rule alien to the SBP hierarchy at that time. That led Douthit to wear anew the national colors for that edition of the quadrennial conclave.

It was, too, in that Korean Asiad when the country?s reputation was further tainted when the nationals, in an attempt to advance into the next round, with Douthit as culprit, shot the ball at the enemy?s goal, which, to many, was tantamount to game-fixing.

Then came the more embarrassing PH-Australia melee, which Blatche took part in, which was condemned by the entire international basketball community. Guiao stressed though that Blatche will be considered for the next window of the qualifiers.

In announcing the 20-man pool Guiao named a number of players who played under him in the recent Asian Games and the fourth window of the qualifiers. He also announced he is officially the head coach of Team Pilipinas.

Included in the pool are Paul Lee, Stanley Pringle, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, Gabe Norwood, Aguilar, Beau Belga, Erram, Ian Sangalang, and Standhardinger. The veterans included are Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright, Troy Rosario, Fajardo, and Slaughter.

Guiao also dropped Terrence Romeo from his selection. LA Tenorio and Arwind Santos are making a comeback to the national pool as well as cadets Ricci Rivero and Kai Sotto.

The lineup, according to coach Yeng was proposed by SBP to the coaching staff and was accepted by the PBA, making the lineup. "We feel that this a consensus one," said Guiao. "Everybody in the lineup has the chance to make the final 12. An initial cut of around 15 will be made before tune up games against Jordan (November 19 and 21) and Lebanon (November 23 and 25) as part of its preparations for the fifth win

SBP president Al Panlilio said this lineup was one of the best, if not the best, national team ever assembled with the PBA throwing its full support to the Nationals, currently in third place in Group F at 5-3.

The Nationals will start training on November 12 but will have daily practice once the PBA suspends the playoffs to give way for the Philippines games on November 30 and December 3 against Kazakhstan and Iran, respectively.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.


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