GILAS Pilipinas goes to the 2017 Fiba Asia Cup without longtime naturalized player Andray Blatche and sniper Allein Maliksi, with Christian Standhardinger and Carl Bryan Cruz taking their place in the lineup announced by head coach Chot Reyes on Tuesday.
Aside from Standhardinger and Cruz, also making the team bound for the August 8-20 showpiece in Lebanon are Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro, Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Gabe Norwood, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan and June Mar Fajardo.
Curiously out was Blatche, who has served as the Philippines' naturalized player from the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain down to the Seaba championship in Manila a few months back.
Blatche was part of the initial 24-man pool submitted by Gilas to the Fiba Asia.
No official statement has yet to be given explaining his absence from Gilas' lineup, but SPIN.ph reported on Monday that the former NBA player was reluctant to join the trip owing to security concerns in Lebanon.
On the other hand, sources said Maliksi, who gave a good account of himself in his maiden Gilas stint in the Seaba championship, had to be dropped because of the one-per-team policy of the PBA in terms of lending players to the Fiba Asia Cup-bound team.
Maliksi's teammate, Jalalon, has put a lock on the back-up point guard spot for Reyes' team following an impressive showing in the Jones Cup in Taipei where Gilas finished fourth among 10 teams.
Exceptions to the one-player-per-team rule were TNT KaTropa (Castro and Pogoy), Alaska (Abueva and Cruz), and Rain or Shine, who allowed Norwood to join teammate Almazan in the Fiba Asia Cup-bound national team.
Impressive performances in Taipei also led to surprise Fiba Asia Cup call-ups for the 6-8 Standhardinger and Cruz, who both were initially set to see action in a separate Gilas team bound for the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Now Reyes will have to make a decision on whether to replace Standhardinger and Cruz in the SEA Games lineup - at the risk of paying a penalty - or have the two frontliners go on double duty for Gilas.
In announcing his Final 12 on his official Twitter account, Reyes put the caption '12 men, 12 days of practice,' meaning all the PBA players will be released to Gias on July 27.
That decision will allow Wright (Phoenix), Romeo (GlobalPort), Almazan and Norwood (both with Rain or Shine) to play in the PBA Commissioner's Cup double-header on Wednesday before joining Gilas in the buildup for the Labanon campaign.
Meralco rookie Ed Daquioag was also made part of the delegation as a 'team official' but may likely serve as a practice player in Lebanon before joining the SEA Games team to be coached by Jong Uichico in Kuala Lumpur.