ANDRAY Blatche was left out of the 20-man pool for Team Pilipinas’ campaign in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, but that doesn't mean the naturalized player is no longer part of the national team program.
National coach Yeng Guiao said the non-inclusion of the 6-foot-11 Blatche was because of the ‘limitation of how he can be utilized’ by the team since the former NBA player won't be available until the Iran game on Dec. 3.
Blatche will still serve out the three-game suspension meted on him by FIBA in the Philippines’ Nov. 30 game against Kazakhstan.
Guiao admitted the decision to drop Blatche from the latest training pool was a ‘hard decision on our part [coaching staff].’
“We appreciate what Andray Blatche has done for us previously, but there’s been a lot of considerations made," said the multi-titled coach.
The national coach pointed out the strong bond the group has formed during its campaign in the last Asian Games and in the fourth window of the qualifiers where it relied on the services of Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle as the team’s naturalized players while Blatche served out his suspension.
“There is really a strong bond among the members and we wanted to preserve that chemistry and bond,” said Guiao during a press conference announcing the members of the training pool at halftime of the Blackwater-Magnolia PBA Governors Cup playoffs at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao also noted how Standhardinger has proven himself while manning the frontcourt for the national team in the absence of the 32-year-old Blatche.
“Christian Standhardinger has produced numbers that can’t be argued against,” noted the national mentor. “So we felt he deserved strong consideration for the line-up.”
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, who joined Guiao during the proceedings along with Commissioner Willie Marcial and league governors Siliman Sy (Blackwater) and Rene Pardo (Magnolia), said the federation has yet to inform Blatche about the development since the training pool list was only presented and approved by the PBA board during a special meeting early in the day,
But Blatche remains very much a part of the training pool for the remaining windows of the qualifiers next year.
“Of course, he will still be considered lalo na sa next window wala na siyang suspension,” added Guiao.