National basketball team coach Yeng Guiao will have a new team but the same problem when he extends his tour of duty in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers which begins two weeks from now.
“Same problem as before,” Guiao said two days after he arrived on Saturday from Jakarta where he steered a rag-tag Philippine team to a decent fifth place finish in the recently-ended 18th Asian Games despite a short two-week preparation.
“We have a short preparation for the Iran window,” Guiao said in reference the Asiad team’s improved sowing from seventh four years ago. “It’s a challenge but we’ll do our best,” Guiao told The Manila Times on Sunday, a day before he was supposed to meet prospective members of his team for the World Cup qualifying tilt.
Guiao, who also coaches the NLEX team in the PBA, will be injecting new players joining the team as a result of the suspensions FIBA meted out on 10 regular members of the national squad as a result of the embarrassing July 2 brawl with Team Australia.
“Almost half of the team will have to be replaced. We’re practically starting again with one week of preparation. We will be cramming again,” the former Pampanga congressman and vice governor lamented.
Eight of the players from the Asiad lineup have been invited anew to form the nucleus of the new team — Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan, and Gabe Norwood, all of Rain or Shine, Stanley Pringle of Global Port, Christian Standhardinger of San Miguel Beer, Asi Taulava of NLEX, Poy Erram of Blackwater and Paul Lee from Magnolia.
The inclusion of Standhardinger, who saw action in the Beermen’s debut Sunday in the current PBA Governors’ Cup, and Pringle will, depend, however, on whether they had obtained their Philippine passports before they turned 16, which is one of the FIBA requirements to be able to play as imports in tournaments sanctioned by the world’s governing body in the sport.
Left out were an injured James Yap, Chris Tiu and Maverick Ahanmisi, also of the Elasto Painters and NBA star Jordan Clarkson. The Cleveland Cavaliers guard ad left Sunday to join his mother team’s training camp for the coming NBA season.
Matthew Wright of Phoenix, a member of the original team, was also invited because he’s suspended for only one game. He would be available for the Qatar game. Others invited are Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter SMB, Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra, Ian Sangalang of Magnolia, and Allein Maliksi of Blackwater.”
The Ginebra Kings’ Japeth Aguilar, who was also banned for one game and so was Baser Amer of Meralco, one of only three players who escaped suspension along with Norwood and June Mar Fajardo were both not mentioned as to have been invited.
Monday’s meeting was to have been held at 7 p.m. at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
Guiao expressed hopes all those invited would attend adding though that there are no guaranteed spots in the 14-player pool.
“Let’s see who’s committed (to play all of it for the country). The decision needs to be made by the players themselves,” he explained. “And from the information I got, the teams already gave their approval. It’s really different when we help each other out.”
By EDDIE G. ALINEA