GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes is sticking with the remaining players in the Fiba Asia Cup roster, hoping they can step up in the absence of June Mar Fajardo.
Reyes disclosed he’s not fielding a replacement for Fajardo, who has suddenly been ruled out due to a strained right calf, from the 24-man pool they can choose from.
“No (replacement),” Reyes said after the team’s last practice on Saturday morning before flying to Lebanon.”If he can’t play, then we go with eleven.”
“If he can play, then that’s a bonus, but we’re preparing as if he can’t, because it’s more difficult yung nagla-labas-pasok, hindi namin alam, so we’re preparing as if he’s not going to be there,” he added. “I think that’s the best way to handle this.”
By keeping Fajardo in the lineup, the team won’t have to shell out money anymore as team manager Butch Antonio said the replacement fee it has to pay in case it makes a player change costs between $3,500 and $7,000 depending on the “arbitrary scope of the tournament.”
The added responsibility lies on the broad shoulders of the rest of the national team’s big men in Christian Standhardinger, Japeth Aguilar, and Raymond Almazan.
Asked if the frontline trio is going to be up to the task especially in the Filipino dribblers’ first assignment next Wednesday against a tall China side, Reyes didn't try to sugarcoat his reaction.
“Nope,” Reyes said. “They’re not – not because they’re not good players, but ranged against a couple of seven-footers, couple of six-eleven guys, and we have what? Couple of six-eight guys, they’re not up to it. It’s going to take a tremendous amount of…”
“They’re up to it in spirit, they’re going to fight like crazy, but they’re not up to it in size and experience of the players that we’re going to battle in Lebanon,” he added.