THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the PBA board will look into the feasibility of tapping naturalized player Andray Blatche for the next window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
Coach Yeng Guiao is set to present to both bodies on Tuesday the Team Pilipinas training pool from which the 12-man line-up for the Nov. 30 game against Kazakhstan and Dec. 3 match opposite Iran will be culled.
Current league chairman Ricky Vargas is expected to lead the PBA Board in the special meeting to be attended by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, and league commissioner Willie Marcial.
Guiao admitted the national team coaching staff will present two options – with and without Blatche in the roster.
“Meron kaming option na kasama siya and meron din na wala,” said the national coach.
The 32-year-old Blatche will actually be only available to play for Team Pilipinas against Iran, by which time he’s already through serving the three-game suspension meted by FIBA for his role in the brawl that marred the Philippines-Australia game last July 2 at the Philippine Arena.
Without Blatche in the line-up, Guiao, who took over from coach Chot Reyes, used Fil-foreigners Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pirngle as the team’s naturalized players in its games against Iran and Kazakhstan in the previous windows.
Standhardinger suited up in the Philippines’ 81-73 loss to the Iranians in Tehran, while Pringle played in the Kazakhstan game which the Filipinos won, 92-81, behind closed doors at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Both Standhardinger and Pringle will be listed by Guiao in the new pool he will present as naturalized players along with the 6-foot-11 Blatche.
“We’ll just present it to the board. We will only recommend. It’s up to the SBP and the PBA board [to select]” said Guiao. “We’ll try to find if ganun pa ba ka-necessary (to have him).”
On Monday, Blatche posted on his Instagram account that he’s ‘war ready,’ and adding he’s just waiting for the call for the two upcoming games in the qualifiers.
There’s no doubt in Guiao’s mind that Blatche remains a towering force for Team Pilipinas in the frontcourt where he’s expected to get a big lift from the giants June Mar Farajardo, Greg Slaughter, and Japeth Aguilar.
Then again, Blatche’s previous issues with the national team will also have to be addressed.
“Papasok na factor diyan is if he’s ready. I don’t know if he’s still with his Chinese team, so we don’t know if he’s competing lately,” said Guiao. “May mga cases din siya in the past na late dumarating (for a tournament) and wala sa kundisyon.”
Then, there’s the high cost of maintaining Blatche’s services, which reportedly comes to millions of pesos per qualifying window.
“We also have to consider yung logistics and cost of having him,” added Guiao.
The national coach believes Blatche has been updated about his situation through his representative and people close to him.
The Philippines is currently running third in Group F with a 5-3 record behind leader Australia (7-1) and Iran (6-2). New Zealand leads Group E with a 7-1 mark, followed by Lebanon and South Korea, both with 6-2 records.
Only the top three teams in the group along with the better fourth-placed team will qualify for the World Cup slated in China next year.