RAYMOND Almazan, Mac Belo and Carl Bryan Cruz have been left out of the final 12-man Gilas lineup for Friday's Fiba World Cup qualifier against Japan in Tokyo.
Coach Chot Reyes made the announcement just before noon on Thursday.
"Finally we decided on the 12-man roster that's going to play in tomorrow's game (against Japan). And so we decided to sit out Carl (Bryan Cruz), Mac (Belo), and Raymund (Almazan) for tomorrow's game," said Reyes.
"I spoke to the three of them earlier and they've taken it very professionally and very well."
Naturalized player Andray Blatche leads the 12-man lineup against the Japanese, along with June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva, Gabe Norwood, Kiefer Ravena, Allein Maliksi, and Kevin Alas.
Reyes made it clear the roster was made based on the team's scouting against the Japanese and the respective health conditions of the players.
"Basically we took into account the team that we're playing tomorrow and we also took account of our health and injury situation."
Of the three, it's Almazan who's been hampered with injury after spraining his ankle days before the national team departed for Tokyo.
Team trainer and therapist Dexter Aseron said there is still some swelling on Almazan's injured ankle although he's feeling a lot better when Gilas practiced for the second straight time on Wednesday.
Reyes, however, stressed the three remain very much part of the team.
Almazan and Co. actually, could even be called up as part of Gilas' roster when it plays Chinese Taipei on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum for its second game under the new home-and-away format of the world championship qualifier.
"This is just the 12-man roster for tomorrow's game. For Taiwan, it would be different. Every game could change," stressed Reyes.
"I just want to tell everybody that we came here as a 15-man team. Those three guys not playing tomorrow doesn’t mean they’re not part of the team," added the Gilas mentor "They're still very much part of the team, entitled to everything and all the privileges that everybody else has."