MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas' naturalized player Andray Blatche still has a chance of donning the national colors in the future.
Philippine team head coach Yeng Guiao bared that the former NBA player is not completely out of the Gilas program despite him being left out of the country's 20-man pool for the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers.
"We really took a big risk in having Blatche sit out this window," Guiao said during an episode of Rappler Talk.
"Of course, we're not discounting the fact that he can still be available for the next window, which is in February but sumugal ako doon sa mga big men natin (I gambled with our big men)."
But the call never came when Guiao announced his 20-man pool and opted to include Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle as the team's potential naturalized players.
For the fiery mentor, it's about what one can bring to the table.
"What we will do is use Christian Standhardinger as our naturalized player and Christian has been playing well in the Asian Games and in the fourth window. If you look at his stats, his stats were better than the stats of Andray Blatche."
Standhardinger averaged 20.6 points in the country's fifth-place finish in the Asiad and put up 30 points and 12 rebounds in his first World Cup qualifiers game, which ended in a 73-81 loss to Iran last September.
Blatche, meanwhile, normed 11.7 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.7 steals in 6 games of the qualifiers' first 3 windows.
"But Andray Blatche is still Andray Blatche. He brings with him his credentials of having played a lot of years in the NBA. But I chose to take that risk," Guiao added.
"The problem also with Andray is he hasn't been playing competitive basketball prior to this window. So if you bring him in, we really don't know what kind of shape he's in and that's always been a problem with Andray."
"But at least with Christian Standhardinger, we know he's there, we know he's healthy, we know he's in shape, we know he's played well with his team from the Asian Games onward so the risk is worth taking."
Blatche has 3 months to prepare before the 6th and final window of the qualifiers slated in February, where the Philippines will play back-to-back road games against Qatar and Kazakhstan.
"I think he understands the situation so he's just there, he's going to wait until the next window for the call when we will bring him in," Guiao concluded. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.