GILAS Pilipinas still hasn't settled on a naturalized player that can suit up in the Fiba World Cup qualifiers starting in November.
National coach Chot Reyes bared that getting the services of naturalized center Andre Blatche will not be easy due to the complicated tournament format and schedule of the qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.
The Philippine team will go on the road to play matches in Australia, Chinese Taipei and Japan and will host these same teams in Manila in the reverse ties under the new home-and-away format.
By November, Blatche will be back playing for the Xinjiang Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Associaition (CBA) and there are no guarantees that he will be released for the qualifiers.
The former NBA player is also without a contract with Gilas after the last negotiations were cut short after he begged off from playing in the Fiba Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon.
“There’s a complication with Andre Blatche because by November he will be playing in his Chinese team so we don’t know if his Chinese team is going to allow him to play,” said Reyes.
“Hindi namin mapaalam si Andre because we need to have something concrete, we don’t have something concrete kasi hindi namin alam kung anong package ang ibibigay namin sa kanya,” he added.
Fil-German big man Christian Standhardinger filled in the shoes left by Blatche in the Fiba Asia Cup as well as in the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Standhardinger, however, will start playing for the Hong Kong Eastern Lions in the ABL beginning in November.
“That’s just how difficult our situation is. Maybe some of you are saying nagpapa-cute lang kami dahil wala kaming maisagot pero that’s the truth, mahirap ang situation namin,” said Reyes.
Several current and former PBA imports have signified willingness to play for Gilas as naturalized players, but Reyes stressed that it will also be a difficult process.
“We are talking to several (players), there are prospects but that’s not easy. We have to go through Congress and their contracts,” said Reyes.