MANILA, Philippines – Yeng Guiao likes the scenario of having a huge frontcourt at his disposal when Team Pilipinas resumes its campaign in the next window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
The national coach is looking forward to the team up of the 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and the 7-foot Greg Slaughter with the returning Andray Blatche at the low post when the Nationals resume their campaign.
Team Pilipinas will host Kazakhstan on November 30 before facing tormentor Iran on December 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche, however, will only be eligible to play against Iran, right after serving a three-game FIBA suspension along with Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, and Troy Rosario. (READ: 10 Gilas players suspended, SBP fined for FIBA brawl)
Still, Guiao is thrilled at the prospect of handling perhaps the tallest national team frontcourt ever in history.
“For the first time in a long while, you will have June Mar, Greg, and Japeth (Aguilar) playing together in a team with (Andray) Blatche,” said Guiao.
“Definitely, lalaki talaga yung lineup natin (Definitely, we have a taller lineup).”
Injuries prevented both Fajardo and Slaughter from joining Team Pilipinas under Guiao the last time, when it lost to Iran at Tehran, 81-73, last September 13, but beat Kazakhstan, 92-81, in a closed-door match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao said there's no need for Team Pilipinas to sacrifice speed for height with the presence of Fajardo and Slaughter.
“Hindi naman tayo babagal. Nakakatakbo rin naman sila June Mar (We won't get any slower. June Mar and the other bigs can keep up and run),” he said.
Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle, who served as Team Pilipinas’ naturalized player in Blatche’s absence during the last window against Iran and Kazakhstan, are again considered in the November 30 clash against the Kazkahs.
Pringle and Standardinger are included in the 20-man pool Guiao and his coaching staff will present to the PBA Board in a special meeting on Tuesday, November 6.
“We will just present the pool to them (league board) and present our training schedule as well,” said Guiao. “Basically yung lang naman for their approval more or less (We'll just get the board's approval).”
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, who also serves as Meralco governor to the PBA Board, is expected to accompany Guiao during the meeting.
Others included in the pool are Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Alex Cabagnot, Poy Erram, Scottie Thompson, Marcio Lassiter, Raymond Almazan, Ian Sangalang, Allein Maliksi, Beau Belga, Matthew Wright, Kai Sotto and Asi Taulava.
The playoffs of the season-ending Governors Cup will take a break middle of November to give way to the practice schedule of Team Pilipinas.
The elimination phase is now down to its last 4 games in the race for the remaining playoffs berth and seeding in the quarterfinals.
Guiao’s NLEX team battles Rain or Shine in the curtain raiser of a Petron Saturday Special, with San Miguel Beer taking on Meralco in the main game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
On Sunday also at the Big Dome, Phoenix faces Blackwater, while Barangay Ginebra tests the mettle of TnT Katropa. – Rappler.com