Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao stood by his decision to exclude Andray Blatche from the team that competed in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Just like Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario, Blatche was slapped with a three-game suspension following the infamous brawl between the Philippines and Australia last July. After serving out their bans, Castro and Rosario saw action in the loss to Iran Friday. Blatche, on the other hand, did not get a call-up.
"No regrets. Once you make that decision, you should take the responsibility. There's no turning back and blaming," said Guiao.
Without the 6-foot-11 Blatche, Stanley Pringle and Christian Standhardinger alternated as Gilas' naturalized players in the second round.
In the fifth window, Pringle exploded for 29 points to lead the charge against Kazakhstan, while Standhardinger delivered 17 points and eight rebounds against Iran. Unfortunately, both games ended up in losses that put the Philippines' World Cup hopes in danger.
"Christian did an excellent job [against Iran] and Pringle did an excellent job against Kazakhstan. What I regret is that they're both Filipinos, we could have had them both and not choose them as naturalized players," Guiao said, referring to FIBA eligibility rules that prevent the two from suiting up as locals.
As of now, it's still uncertain if Blatche will be tapped to boost the squad for the sixth and final window of the qualifiers.
"We haven't discussed it. Ever since, we've been saying that he can always be considered. [But] we have not gone that far as to make a decision about the situation," Guiao explained.
Many have been touting this Gilas batch as the strongest team ever formed because it's a collection of the best Filipino talents available. Guiao admitted, however, that the team has not proven anything yet.
"We've always been saying that this team is good on paper but the result will be the basis if this is really the strongest team," he said. "We're far from being the best team but the potential is always there. Time to familiarize and mature together and add two or three more pieces."
Blatche and Brownlee under consideration
Coach Yeng Guiao said Andray Blatche is still an option but is also considering Ginebra import Justin Brownlee as a naturalized player.
One of the players that Guiao is looking to include is the 6-foot-5 American forward Justin Brownlee, who's currently undergoing the process of naturalization.
"One option that's in the works is Brownlee. His papers are with the Congress and that's an option we can consider. We're waiting and expanding our options and that is an immediate option we can exercise," Guiao said about getting the Ginebra import.
"We can use one naturalized [player] or we can use two players like what we're doing with Stanley and Christian. We can choose depending on the needs and situations," he added.
Gilas Pilipinas has roughly three months to plan its course of action heading into must-win road games against Qatar and Kazakhstan in February.