GILAS Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao admitted health was one of the biggest factors that dictated the selection of the Final 12 for the Fiba Basketball World Cup 2019.
“Actually, the circumstances revealed the decision,” Guiao told SPIN.ph a day after the Final 12 of the Gilas team bound for Foshan, China was released. “[It] became really a health issue. We must choose the healthiest.”
Released shortly after their final tuneup game against the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday, the team was made up of naturalized player Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Paul Lee, Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, RR Pogoy, Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, Mark Barroca, Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez and Robert Bolick.
Guiao said those who didn’t made the cut, namely Poy Erram, Matthew Wright, and Marcio Lassiter, were ruled out by injuries, making the selection process a lot easier for the Gilas coaching staff.
“Si Poy, may problema sa tuhod, Matthew may problema sa heel, Marcio matagal na, and then Beau naman was just standing in. They were the last four guys left doon sa pool,” said Guiao.
Guiao, however, made it clear all the players in the Final 12 proved themselves deserving of a spot because of their play during the buildup, including in the training camp in Spain and the two tune-up games against the Adelaide 36ers.
“The 12 naman, even if there were some health issues with the guys who weren’t chosen, all of 12 people deserve to be there with their performance. ‘Yun ang actually nag-decide. We just chose the healthiest. We had exactly 12 people,” said Guiao.
Guiao noted the play of Perez and Bolick during the training camp in Spain that made the two PBA rookies an option to be chosen for the Final 12.
“They played well in Spain aside from the fact that they were carrying their teams on their shoulders sa PBA. It just translated to them performing well in our scrimmages, in our tune-up games," the multi-titled coach said.
"The public didn’t see ‘yung mga closed door games namin sa Spain but the two performed well in Spain. Then, it’s just being able to follow the system, being able to blend well with the others.
“Actually, ‘yung nangyari na ‘yung mga injuries, it was an easy decision already … Kung walang health issues, delikado sila. Sila naman ‘yung mga rookies diyan,” said Guiao.
The inclusion of Almazan in lieu of the injured Erram added size to the team, Guiao added.
“We needed a frontline who were quick. Our problem nga is si Poy hindi umubra. Naging natural choice na [si Almazan] … Kilala ko naman na si Raymond. Matagal na siya sa sistema ko. Our familiarity is a factor,” said Guiao.