Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao will announce the final lineup for the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers on Wednesday or Thursday.
After a week of experimenting on different rotations during a series of tune-up matches, the coaches are now in the process of coming up with the list of 12 players who will see action in the home game against Kazakhstan on November 30.
"More or less, we already have an idea who will be in the final 12," Guiao said after the Philippines absorbed its second loss to Lebanon on Sunday. "The scrimmages and the tune-up games were a big factor in choosing the players."
The national team Guiao guided to a fifth-place finish in the Asian Games three months ago became a cohesive unit quickly. Getting this pool of players working well together has been a bigger challenge in a short amount of time.
"The core players of the Asian Games team played for me for a long time," Guiao said. "With that team, we already have seven to eight guys who already know what I want, what the system is, and they have specific skills that are suited to the system."
Having big men who can shoot from the outside has been a staple in all of Guiao's teams. While he cannot demand the same from his current Gilas personnel, he knows that they can still find ways to utilize the country's tallest and finest frontline.
"You cannot teach June Mar [Fajardo] to step out for a 3-point shot, as well as Greg [Slaughter]. We have to work on those limitations, but at the same time, they also bring with them some advantages. They have a size advantage, so we're going to have to look for some plays that are going to maximize our big men effectivity."
The Philippine team only won one of its four tune-up matches but the lessons and experimenting with lineup combinations will be beneficial when they face Kazakhstan and Iran in the coming FIBA window.
"I guess the luxury of having tune-up games is to be able to take some risks with some strategies and some decisions," said Guiao. "We really wanted to win but it's very difficult for me to rotate 14 people. I already cut them because they were 19 so I made the others alternate. When we're a solid 12, it's easier for me to prepare them and rotate them."
Guiao is also hoping that the bruising play in the exhibition games prepares the team for what is to come.
"I repeatedly told the players that this is not PBA," said Guiao. "You won't be spoiled here. You are superstars in the PBA but the referees don't know you here. When you get bumped [in the PBA], the referees can make a call and bail you out. Here, when you get bumped, you're on your own. They need to get used to it because Kazakhstan is also big and Iran is bigger. The more time they get used to the bumping and the pushing, the better for them. It's really our bigs who will take the brunt of it."
The Philippines is in third place in Group F at 5-3, behind Australia (7-1) and Iran (6-2). Gilas plays Kazakhstan on November 30 and Iran on December 3 -- both games will be held at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.