HEAD coach Chot Reyes said the idea of having one or two naturalized players on stand-by to replace Marcus Douthit is ideal for Gilas Pilipinas, except for the huge expenses involved.
The injury suffered by Douthit in the semifinal match against Korea, and his subsequent absence from the Fiba-Asia championships title game against Iran, has sparked calls for the naturalization of more tall players for the national team program.
However, Reyes said maintaining a stable of naturalized players will pose a logistical nightmare for Gilas, adding the bill for keeping one naturalized player alone already makes a big dent on the team's coffers.
"Alam mo, marami ang nagsasabi na kailangan meron pa tayong isa or dalawa pa, pero sino ang magbabayad e ang laki ng suweldo n'yan," said Reyes on Wednesday.
"Ideal iyong meron kang isa or dalawa pa (na naturalized players) pero ang problema pasusuwelduhin mo lahat ‘yon, hindi naman kadali ‘yon. The actual logistics involved, iyon ang mahirap," he added.
Team insiders said the cost of keeping one naturalized player alone runs up to eight figures.
Another option for Gilas is to maintain an overseas-based naturalized player who can be called up for international tournaments, although Reyes said such a set-up could pose problems in terms of availability.
"Hindi mo kontrolado kapag ganoon. Baka kapag kailangan mo hindi puwede. So it defeats the purpose," he said.
Still, Gilas said team manager Butch Antonio said adding one or even two naturalized players is an option the national team is seriously considering.
“The option of having naturalized players is there, whether one or two. I mean, one (naturalized player) is okay and two is great. It’s always good to have a backup or a choice,” Antonio said just before the PBA honored the entire Gilas team in between the PBA Governors Cup doubleheader on Wednesday.
Antonio made it clear Gilas has no plan to become `tourists’ during the World Cup as it intends to come out with a competitive team in the hope of at least getting past the first round.
“Ang plano naman is hindi lang tayo maging turista sa Spain. While we have yet to meet since the end of the Fiba-Asia, but again, nandun na tayo kasi sa top 24 countries in the world, we sure will set a goal once mag-meet kami,” he said.