Gilas coach plans to give Marc Pingris, Moala Tautuaa long minutes in Blatche's absence
Moala Tautuaa is set to step in for Gilas following naturalized Andray Blatche's departure for the US to attend the funeral of his uncle. Jerome Ascano 

TAIPEI - Although not by design, Moala Tautuaa will likely end up playing a lot of games in the Jones Cup following Andray Blatche's departure for the US to attend to funeral of his uncle.

Marc Pingris will also play lengthily - by design.

With Blatche likely to sit out most if not all of Gilas Pilipinas' games in the Jones Cup, national coach Tab Baldwin said he expects Tautuaa to get a lot of action in this nine-nation tournament which the Philippines ruled in 2012.

The 6-7 Tautuaa, the top pick overall in the last PBA rookie draft, was a late addition to the Gilas pool as an 'alternate naturalized player' but is now thrust into the spotlight following Blatche's return to the US.

[See No timetable for Blatche return as 'snakebit' Gilas deals with another setback] 

"I suspect he'll play a lot of games," said Baldwin of Tautuaa, who, although of Filipino descent, cannot play as a local for Gilas owing to his failure to gain Philippine citizenship before he turned 16. "Not all eight (games), but a lot."

The Fil-Tongan was part of the 24-player pool Gilas submitted to Fiba Asia organizers but is listed as a naturalized player.

On the other hand, Baldwin bared he also plans to give Pingris a good run in the Jones Cup to put him up to speed with the national team following his late addition to the 17-man pool.

The Star forward, a stalwart of the Gilas team that finished runner-up in the 2013 Fiba Asia in Manila, rejoined the pool only last Tuesday after a family trip to France.

[See Pingris makes U-turn, says he wants to rejoin Gilas pool]

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