TEAM Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao is bracing for a 'beautiful problem' once it's time to cut down his tall, talent-laden 20-man pool to the Final 12 for the fifth window of the Fiba World Cup 2019 Qualifiers.
After 17 players attended Sunday's practice at the Meralco Gym — the team’s best attendance so far, Guiao said selecting the final line-up for home matches against Kazakhstan on November 30 and Iran on December 3 won't be easy.
“I’m pretty sure magkakaroon ako ng problema cutting it down because I’ve really been happy with the way they’ve been practicing,” Guiao, who just returned from a business trip, told the reporters at the end of practice.
“So of course, twenty sila ngayon. We have to cut down maybe to fifteen, and then finally to twelve before game day, before the Kazakhstan game.”
Guiao and his coaching staff will select 12 among June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Christian Standhardinger, Alex Cabagnot, Greg Slaughter, Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, LA Tenorio, Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Gabe Norwood, JP Erram, Matthew Wright, Beau Belga and Stanley Pringle as well as cadets Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero.
“It’s going to be a really hard decision just because of the way they’ve been practicing. Good problem pa din for us. But parang hirap ano eh, hirap mag-cut, ang hirap magdesisyon,” he said. “But that’s not totally my decision. Of course, the coaching staff will have a lot to do about that.”
Guiao said that the final line-up would be decided after the last two tune-up matches against Lebanon on November 23 and 25. But for now, he will focus on the twice-a-day daily training sessions.
“We will practice every day now. Actually when we have scrimmages, we will practice twice a day because we will have shootarounds in the morning,” he said.
Heading into their first tune-up game on Monday against Jordan, the national team coach will not be using Ginebra stars Japeth Aguilar, Greg Slaughter, Scottie Thompson, and LA Tenorio as well as Stanley Pringle, who just had their first practice, as he leans on the 13 players who have been regularly training since Monday.
"This is an important test for us in terms of getting ourselves and mindset, body and mind into game shape. And Jordan is a strong team," he said.