YENG Guiao reiterated that naturalized player Andray Blatche will always be considered for future Team Pilipinas games, including the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in February.
“Of course, sinabi ko na naman nung araw pa that he’s still part of the team and that he’ll always be considered,” said the national coach on the current status of the 6-foot-11 Blatche with Team Pilipinas.
A clamor to call up Andray Blatche in future Team Pilipinas games snowballed on Monday after Team Pilipinas dropped games against Iran, 78-70, and Kazakhstan in the fifth window of the qualifiers.
Guiao, however, wasn't ready to address the issue, saying the coaching staff will have to sit together and discuss what went wrong as the Filipinos absorbed their third straight loss at home – including back-to-back in the last four days.
“After this game, we’ll have to make some assessments, evaluations, and some decisions,” said the national coach.
In the absence of the 32-year-old Blatche, Team Pilipinas tapped Stanley Pringle as its naturalized player in a 92-88 setback against Kazakhstan, and later on, settled for Christian Standhardinger in the game against Iran.
Blatche made it clear he wasn't happy after he wasn't even named to the 20-man training pool. Although Guiao didn’t expect an emotional message from Blatche, the national coach said he understand where the former NBA player was coming from.
“I have no dealings with Andray Blatche, I have not coached him, I don’t have any personal contacts with him. So when we discussed this, we discuss it as professional as we can, and at the same time, nanghihingi rin ako ng guidance sa SBP,” he said.
Guiao added the limited availability of Blatche for the fifth window was also considered since he’ll be only eligible to play in the Iran game after serving out a three-game ban for his role in a brawl against Australia last July.
“Sinabi ko rin naman that this is an experiment. We can fail in the experiment or we can succeed in the experiment, then we always have something to go back to,” he said.
Despite the two losses and Blatche’s absence, Guiao remained defiant.
“I still feel that this is a good team. I still feel this is a strong team. The chances are slimmer going to the World Cup, but I still feel it’s doable. Kaya pa rin natin,” he said.