MANILA, Philippines – Naturalized player Andray Blatche may not be a part Gilas Pilipinas' future plans anymore.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio bared they are looking at other prospects to fill in the naturalized player spot as the country gears up for the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in February.
"Andray has helped us a lot in the past but I think it's time we move on from him," Panlilio told reporters on Saturday, January 4.
Blatche played a crucial role in the Philippines' campaign in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, where the country almost upset powerhouse Croatia and Argentina and beat Senegal.
The same, though, could not be said in his second World Cup stint last year as Blatche and Gilas Pilipinas went winless in 5 games and finished dead-last among the 32 participating countries.
It may be because of his age – with Blatche turning 34 in August – or his recurring fitness issues, but the SBP is heading into a different direction.
"We're identifying some players we can naturalize. That's also a process and it takes time. We'll have to identify those names. Maybe 2 to 3 names that we can put in the pool so we'll have an elbow room," Panlilio said.
But in the first window against Indonesia and Thailand, it may be between Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle who will reinforce Gilas Pilipinas.
Standhardinger and Pringle both served as naturalized players in the Asian Qualifiers of the World Cup under coach Yeng Guiao in 2018.
"Maybe their names will be put there. We have to see," Panlilio said.
With Isaac Go, Matt and Mike Nieto, Allyn Bulanadi, Rey Suerte, Thirdy Ravena, and JD Tungcab the only players committed to the pool, Gilas Pilipinas races against time to build a team before facing Thailand on February 20. – 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.