YENG Guiao has included Raymund Almazan in the 20-man Team Pilipinas pool for the next window of the FIBA World Cup Asia qualifiers.
But his status with mother ballclub Rain or Shine and his shape in the middle of his suspension will weigh on his chances at a spot in the roster for the coming home games against Kazakhstan and Iran.
Guiao said he has yet to talk to Rain or Shine management about the 6-foot-8 center, who was recently suspended by the team after going ‘AWOL’ for two weeks during its campaign in the PBA Governors Cup.
The suspension is effective until the end of the season, with Almazan not expected to return until the league’s new season begins on January 13.
“Andun siya sa original list, but we will respect the decision of his mother team,” said Guiao, who also has strong ties with Rain or Shine co-owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que after serving as coach of the Elasto Painters from 2011-2016.
“We don’t want to pre-empt management. We have very high respect for boss Raymund and boss Terry for all the support they have offered to the national team,” added the national coach. “If he remains suspended while the (national) team is preparing for the qualifiers, we will respect that.”
After missing most of the Elasto Painters’ games in the season-ending conference, Almazan’s condition is also questionable, according to Guiao.
“Ang problema ilang lingo ng hindi naglalaro yan, so his conditioning is also suspect. Obviously yung timing niyan wala,” said the NLEX mentor.
Guiao isn’t denying though, the big man out of Letran has already earned his spot at Team Pilipinas that Guiao and his coaching staff still included Almazan’s name in the pool of players to be submitted before the PBA board this Tuesday during a special meeting at the league office in Libis.
Almazan played for the team in its 81-73 loss to Iran last Sept. 13, but was replaced in the lineup by the returning Japeth Aguilar in a 92-81 win over Qatar on Sept. 17.
“He already made it to the team during the qualifiers and the Asian Games, but that is not a 100 percent guarantee. A lot of factors have to be considered,” said Guiao.