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MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes announced Monday, August 18 via Twitter that Rain or Shine guard Paul Lee and newly naturalized big man Andray Blatche will be inserted into the lineup for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
Reyes said Lee will take the spot left by Larry Fonacier, who withdrew from the squad due to medical reasons. Blatche, on the other hand, will take the place of Marcus Douthit, another naturalized player who gave Gilas a boost in previous years, most especially during the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship where the Philippines bagged the silver medal and qualified for this year’s World Cup.
The national team coach did not specify who will fill the 10 remaining spots, though it’s believed that the team that competed in FIBA Asia in August of 2013 will remain on the squad, which includes Jimmy Alapag, LA Tenorio, Jayson Castro, Gary David, Gabe Norwood, Marc Pingris, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo and Jeff Chan.
Calls to Reyes weren’t answered at time of press.
The 17-man pool that Reyes initially assembled did not include Blatche who still wasn’t naturalized at the time. But Greg Slaughter and Marcio Lassiter backed out from the pool out of respect to the 12 players who worked hard to qualify for the World Cup.
Lee made a solid case for himself with his impressive performance in the FIBA Asia Cup, where he averaged 12 points, two rebounds and two assists and shot 50% from the three-point area. The former UE Red Warrior also sealed the bronze medal finish for Gilas, its highest ever in the tourney, with his 3 free throws with no time remaining to defeat China, 80-79, in the battle for third last July.
Gilas Pilipinas is set to return to Spain coming off the Antibes International Basketball Tournament in France, which was part of their preparations for the World Cup that will take place from August 30 to September 14. – Rappler.com