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    Guiao says Gilas with Clarkson, Blatche will be 'our version of the dream team'

    Feb 26, 2019

    YENG Guiao has had the rare privilege of coaching both Jordan Clarkson and Andray Blatche under the national team program.

    Now he wants to see both in a Philippine uniform at the 2019 World Cup.

    "That would be our version of the dream team," said Guiao, the morning after Team Pilipinas' arrival from a road trip where gutsy victories over Kazakhstan and Qatar assured the country of a return trip to the global showpiece.

    Guiao took over the Gilas program in the aftermath of the July 2 brawl with Australia and led a team backstopped by Clarkson and made up of the nucleaus of his former team Rain or Shine to a seventh-place finish in the Asian Games.

    The veteran coach later recalled Blatche for the final stage of the qualifiers and saw the naturalized player lead from the front in a pair of qualifiers that Team Pilipinas couldn't afford to lose.

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    With Blatche now set to reprise his role as the Philippines' naturalized player in the Fiba World Cup, a role he first played in 2014 in Seville, Spain, Guiao hopes to see Clarkson get the green light to play for Gilas as a local.

    The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has set in motion an appeal before Fiba's Eligibility Committee, hoping the world body can relax its passport rule on Clarkson and other Filipino players of mixed parentage.

    Guiao said he is also looking to see Stanley Pringle, two Fil-foreigners who were tapped by Gilas in the past as naturalized players only because of the contentious Fiba passport rule, get an opportunity to play as locals.

    But that's not to say that Guiao found his current team lacking.

    In fact, the multi-titled coach said his team in the final window of the qualifiers, adorned with two-way players like Mark Barroca, Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson and RR Pogoy, and agile big men like Poy Erram, Japeth Aguilar and Blatche, was hands down the best team he ever put together in the World Cup qualifiers.

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    "Easily," Guiao said. "They all had the skills to shine in the system we were running."

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      As for his own future, Guiao said his contract with SBP only runs until the end of the qualifiers and he is leaving it up to top officials to chart a plan for the Philippine team bound for the August 31 to September 15 showpiece in China.

      Mincing no words, Guiao said he will take the job if it is offered to him.

      "I'll be flattered if the job is offered to me," he said. "It'll be an honor and privilege."

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