ANDRAY Blatche, June Mar Fajardo and PBA rookies Robert Bolick and CJ Perez lead the 12-man Gilas Pilipinas team to the FIBA World Cup in China which kicks off next week.
The official team roster was announced by coach Yeng Guiao shortly after Gilas' second tune-up game against the Adelaide 36ers on Sunday night at the Meralco gym.
Left out of the team that will depart for Foshan, China on Tuesday are injured players Matthew Wright and Poy Erram along with big man Beau Belga.
Completing the lineup are CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, Paul Lee, Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy, Gabe Norwood, Raymund Almazan, Mark Barroca, and the recently reinstated Kiefer Ravena.
"Mahirap. Ilang araw na naming pinag-uusapan yan. Of course there were circumtances that also played into the decision making," said coach Guiao of his chosen 12.
The lineup was first presented to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and president Al Panlilio as a courtesy before the announcement was made.
According to Guiao, the fight for the 12th and final spot went down to a choice between Mark Barroca and Wright. The injury to Wright made the choice easier to make.
The injury to Erram also left an opening for Almazan in the lineup that will battle Italy, Serbia and Angola in the group stage of the World Cup.
"These are the 12 gallant men who will fight for flag and country in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China, but they would not have gotten this opportunity if it were not for the sacrifices of all the players, coaches, and staff that helped along the way throughout the FIBA Asian Qualifiers," said Panlilio in a statement.
"This is your Gilas Pilipinas and they'll do their best to represent the 100 million Filipinos and promote the Philippine brand of basketball on the world stage."