All-Filipino test for Cuppers

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National team coach Yeng Guiao on Wednesday defended his decision to go All-Filipino and drop naturalized reinforcement Andray Blatche, saying this will help the country gauge its level in international basketball play.

Blatche, the long-time reinforcement of the Philippine men’s national basketball team, was left out of the newest 20-man training pool named by Guiao for the upcoming fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers later this month.

Guiao said it was a collective decision by the coaching staff with approval from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

Guiao retained the core of his Asian Games and Asian Qualifiers fourth window roster with some local additions to test the players’ chemistry.

“It went through consultation, evaluation and assessment. It went through different levels and the decision passed all those levels. There was no resistance and different recommendation contrary,” Guiao explained.

“So, we have to follow that decision. It was really a hard decision on our part but we took into consideration the chemistry that has been built up from the Asian Games. We want to preserve that.”

Blatche is still serving a three-game suspension (until 30 November) against Kazakhstan, making him available for just one game against Iran on 3 December.

Guiao said he wants to give his All-Filipino quadruple tower combo of Greg Slaughter, June Mar Fajardo, Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar their moments to shine.

“As I’ve said, this is an experiment. Iran is a big team, Kazakhstan is a big team and if we feel that June Mar, Greg, Japeth and Christian are not enough, then we might seek help and come back to Andray,” said Guiao.

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