There's no doubt Gilas Pilipinas now have the size to match up with rival Iran with the likes of June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, and Japeth Aguilar -- a formidable frontline that could tame Hamed Haddadi, should he play -- when the two teams square off in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on December 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With Haddadi already covered, head coach Yeng Guiao is looking at Arwind Santos and Troy Rosario to defend Nikkah Bahrami, Iran's other star. Guiao is hopeful that the two, along with Gabe Norwood, could be the team's "Bahrami stoppers" with their length and defensive prowess.
"Actually, that's the reason I took them in this team, to convert them into the big 3s," said Guiao. "If we face Iran, they will be the Bahrami stoppers."
Santos, who is no stranger to the role, is up to the challenge. When he suited up for Guiao in the PBA and the national team, he played as a small forward.
"I used to play 3 for him in the PBA. It's nothing new to me," he said in Filipino. "He knows which position I will be very effective. That's what I like about coach Yeng."
However, with Rosario going to be available only for the Iran game due to his three-game suspension, Guiao said he might choose only one of the two.
"Of course, maybe for the Iran game we might just have to choose just one between the two of them. Because Troy will only be available for the Iran game," he said. "For the Kazakhstan game he won't be available. If we have Troy there, we will see if we'll have another room for another big 3 there in that situation."
Regardless of who gets included in the final lineup, Santos is just happy to get another chance to play for his former mentor at Air21 and Powerade Pilipinas.
"While he was explaining that to me earlier, I couldn't help but recall the days when he was still my coach," he said. "I respect him. I have a lot of reasons to give my best in practice, in a game. For the team, for the country, for my family, and for all my fans."