YENG Guiao isn't ruling out the possibility of Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero making the cut for Team Pilipinas' 12-man lineup for the Kazakhstan game on Friday.
The fiery mentor disclosed that so far, he now has about 10 names on his list for the first game of the two-match homestand and the young guns' chances of earning their spot is as big as the others in his 20-man pool.
"They're not totally out. There's two or three slots left. We don't want to totally say na wala na, hindi na kasali yung dalawa o hindi na sila kino-consider for the Final 12," he said on Tuesday.
Guiao said he was bent on giving Sotto and Rivero exposure in at least one of the games in the fifth window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
But after the national team's disappointing 1-3 showing in its tuneup games against Jordan and Lebanon last week, Guiao and his coaching staff are forced to recalibrate their plan as pressure mounted for a favorable result.
The Kapampangan mentor, though, said he's still considering giving one of the budding stars their chance to play with the seniors, at least for this November 30 game against Kazakhstan.
"Meron ding school of thought na, 'Why not include one or either?' Kasi kung nasa 12th slot yung isa sa kanila, baka hindi naman ganoon ka-urgent yung need for the 12th man. You're giving them the experience to broaden their horizons," he said.
However, Guiao admits that the discussion didn't really gain much traction, especially with the pressure mounting on Team Pilipinas delivering a good showing through its best possible lineup for the pair of home games at Mall of Asia Arena.
"There is that thought, but doon sa mga discussion namin, it doesn't really have much weight than getting 12 people we can use talaga," he said. "That idea is being considered, but siguro maliit na chance. We don't dwell on it that much."
What's beyond doubt is that both Sotto and Rivero have proven themselves worthy of a spot in the pool given their blue-collar work ethic.
"The coaching staff has been very impressed with the two guys. They've been consistent in attending practice, and hindi naman uma-absent yung mga bata kung hindi urgent. Si Kai, basta academics, yun ang mauuna," said Guiao.