WILL HE PLAY?
But we haven’t made the decision yet on the lineup for the next window
The fate of Andray Blatche in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers is still in limbo as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) bared that it has yet to discuss the composition of its roster.
SBP president Al Panlilio told Daily Tribune that they had a board meeting last Monday, but the case of Blatche — whether he would still be hired or not — has yet to be formally tackled.
Blatche, the 32-year old basketball journeyman who was naturalized in 2014, was among those slapped with hefty penalties in the wake of an ugly brawl with Australia in the fourth window of the qualifiers last July in Bulacan.
During his three-game suspension, a lot of things happened in the national team program, including the appointment of Yeng Guiao as replacement of head coach Chot Reyes.
With Guiao at the helm, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) threw its all-out support, paving the way for Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle to see action as naturalized players.
Cleveland Cavaliers standout Jordan Clarkson also managed to play and led the Nationals to a fifth-place finish in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta.
But with Blatche set to be available when the Nationals face Iran in a home game on 3 December, his spot in the roster is under question.
Panlilio said they have yet to take up the matter.
“In a board meeting yesterday regarding Blatche, he’s still very much part of the pool,” said Panlilio, who is also a member of the PBA board of governors.
“But we haven’t made the decision yet on the lineup for the next window.”
Blatche’s replacement, Standhardinger, appears to be a good fit to the Nationals.
Christian and Stanley are classified as naturalized players, too.
The Filipino-German banger played like a one-man army against the Iranian giants, finishing with 30 points and 12 rebounds in a 73-81 setback.
He yielded his spot to Pringle against Qatar, paving the way for a 92-81 victory.
Panlilio said they have no candidate for naturalization at the moment, hinting that either Standhardinger or Pringle will be deployed should they decide to sit out Blatche.
“None yet,” Panlilio answered on possible next naturalized player prospects. “Christian and Stanley are classified as naturalized players, too.”
Panlilio’s special assistant, Ryan Gregorio, echoed his statement.
“We have not discussed that yet. I am sure in the next coming days, that will be part of the discussion,” said Gregorio, who also acts as lead scout of the Nationals.
“In the meantime, we are letting coach Yeng focus on his duties as NLEX head coach.”
The Philippines is at third place of the Group F with 5-3 win-loss record behind leaders Australia and Iran heading into two crucial home games.
Aside from Blatche, also expected to return in time for the Iran match are Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo and Troy Rosario, who were also suspended for their roles in the melee.