Playing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup without Jayson Castro will have a great impact on Gilas Pilipinas, according to former national team captain Jimmy Alapag.
Alapag, who is the head coach of Alab Pilipinas and assistant coach of the San Miguel Beermen, said Castro's vast experience in international tournaments is vital and will be sorely missed.
"If it ends up happening that Jayson doesn't play (in the World Cup), it's obviously a huge void for the Gilas program," Alapag said on SportsCenter Philippines on Tuesday.
"He's got loads of experience and he's really been the face of Gilas now for quite some time."
Gilas coach Yeng Guiao on Monday mentioned that Castro's status for the World Cup remains uncertain due to "personal priorities."
Castro has been a regular fixture for Gilas for years, most notably on the team that finished second behind Iran in the 2013 FIBA Asia men's Championship in Manila. The runner-up finish also secured the country's place in the FIBA World Cup in 2014, marking the first time the Philippines played in the tournament after a 40-year absence.
Castro, who was named Best Point Guard in Asia in 2013 and 2015, last suited up for Gilas against Qatar and Kazakhstan in the final window of the 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers after serving a three-game suspension.
Alapag, though, is confident that other players can step up in his absence if Castro does take a break from national team duties.
"(Castro's absence) is a huge loss for the program, but it's also an opportunity for someone else to step up," said Alapag.
"I don't know who coach Yeng and the staff will decide can possibly replace Jayson, because those are huge shoes to fill, but for some of the younger players, it's a great chance for them to represent the country and there's no better place to do that than the World Cup."