GREG Slaughter left a gaping hole down low as his conspicuous absence was noticeable in Team Pilipinas' Saturday evening training session at Mall of Asia Arena.
With the Philippines expected to parade a taller frontline for the Iran game on Monday with Christian Standhardinger and Troy Rosario coming to the fray, Slaughter's absence in the practice session raises a few interesting questions for coach Yeng Guiao.
The fiery mentor, though, was mum on Slaughter's absence.
Only 17 men from Guiao's 20-man pool were present for the practice, and those who weren't here, aside from Slaughter, have their reasons.
The 16-year-old prodigy Kai Sotto has a game with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets in the UAAP Season 81 juniors basketball tournament on Sunday, while Magnolia's Ian Sangalang has previously begged off as he recovers from an injured knee.
Slaughter was unimpressive in the Philippines' 92-88 defeat to Kazakhstan on Friday as he went scoreless and only grabbed a rebound as he was a minus-five in his five minutes of play.
That defeat complicated Gilas' World Cup quest as it stands at 5-4 at joint third place with Japan in Group F.
The Philippines now has to sweep its remaining games, starting in this home game against Iran before flying to Qatar and Kazakhstan in February for the sixth window, to avoid any complications to its qualification bid to next year's meet in China.