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    SBP finally eyes naturalized player pool as Gilas moves on from Blatche

    Jan 4, 2020
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    IT'S safe to say that the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China was Andray Blatche's last tour of duty for Gilas Pilipinas.

    Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio was definitive in saying that the global hoops tilt was the end of the road for the Syracuse-born center as the country's naturalized player.

    "Andray has helped us a lot in the past, but I think it's time we move on from him," he said.

    Blatche posted 15.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 2.4 steals, but was obviously a shell of his old self as he failed to help the Philippines make a dent and finish dead-last among 32 teams in China.

    Moving forward from Blatche, Panlilio said that the SBP is looking at finally making a pool of at least two to three naturalized players who can be of use for the national team in its various international tourneys.

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    "We'll have to identify those names," he said. "My objective is to have two to three names as a pool so we'll have an elbow room. It depends on what the competition is, who's injured, mayroon ka nang backup. That's also the process, and it takes time."

    Names who were earlier pinpointed as potential candidates were Justin Brownlee and Chris McCullough.

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      As for the first window of the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers, Panlilio said that guys like Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle -- players who previously suited up for Gilas but were seen as naturalized players in Fiba-sanctioned competitions -- may be utilized as the Philippines braces for its first set of games against Thailand on February 20 and versus Indonesia on February 23.

      "In the first window, maybe you're looking at a Christian Standhardinger or a Stanley Pringle who have naturalized status as far as Fiba is concerned. Maybe their names will be put there and we have to see kasi yun ang mga paguusapan namin," he said.

      "Ang kagandahan lang is the window is February, and the PBA doesn't start until March. May konting overlap, but since teams are preparing already, maybe we can borrow to augment with the seven players that we have. One of them can be Christian or Stanley."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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