Our country has always been a hotbed of talented basketball players, so there’s always going to be debate on which of them should represent our national team.
Head coach Yeng Guiao recently announced his 20-man pool for the upcoming fifth window of the FIBA World Qualifiers against Kazakhstan on November 30 and Iran on December 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. Here is the list of the players that were selected:
Point guards: Jayson Castro, Alex Cabagnot, LA Tenorio, Stanley Pringle
Shooting guards: Paul Lee, Scottie Thompson, Ricci Rivero
Small forwards: Matthew Wright, Marcio Lassiter, Gabe Norwood
Power forwards: Arwind Santos, Ian Sangalang, Beau Belga, JP Erram, Troy Rosario
Centers: June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar, Kai Sotto
The fiery mentor himself has acknowledged how tough the process was in choosing the players that would be part of the group. As a result, some Filipino basketball fans were shocked on how some guys weren’t selected. Today, FOX Sports PH takes a look at some notable players who may have been snubbed in Guiao’s 20-man pool.
The 6’11 naturalized center of Gilas Pilipinas was visibly disappointed after not being chosen to represent our country anew. Although he would only be eligible for the December 3 game against Iran due to his three-game suspension, Blatche could’ve been a huge boost for Team Pilipinas as he was arguably the most successful guy in matching up against their top player, Hamed Haddadi.
Our last win against them came in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship group phase game, where the Syracuse-native finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds. And while Blatche’s best years clearly behind him, his ball handling and outside shooting can still pose problems for the Iranian behemoth.
Like Blatche, Romeo could only play in the second game of the fifth window. Some pundits found it surprising that he was also left out of the pool as his dazzling display of ball handling and scoring has already made waves in the international scene. His best performance came in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup where he averaged 17.8 points and 3.0 triples in six games.
He was also instrumental in Team Pilipinas’ victory over Iran in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship group phase game as he scored 15 points while coming off the bench. Now equipped with more international basketball experience, the 5’10 spitfire guard could’ve made a massive impact once again versus the mighty Iranians.
Almazan has also had an ample amount of exposure in international basketball as he has already played six games in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and in the first game of the fourth window of the FIBA Asia Qualifiers against Iran. Although he only averaged 4.0 points and 2.1 rebounds in those games, the Rain or Shine beanpole has shown that he was capable of holding his own with the best big men of other Asian powerhouse teams.
His recent drama with the Elasto Painters was probably a factor in his exclusion from the lineup but the controversial center’s energy and toughness could’ve been a welcome addition to the national team once again.
Some people have long been clamoring for Vic Manuel’s inclusion in the national team, and it’s hard not to agree with them. His recent resurgence has been putting the Philippine basketball scene on notice as he has posted averages of 18.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals on 50.9% shooting from the field in 33 elimination round games of the 2017-18 PBA season.
The ‘Muscle Man’ has been quite adept at draining mid-range jumpers and finishing around the rim despite being undersized at the power forward spot. While it remains to be seen if those skills translate well in international competition, he still deserves a consideration in the national team roster.