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    Fajardo, Slaughter, Sotto set to head expanded Guiao pool for Fiba qualifiers

    Oct 29, 2018

    RETURNING players who have served out their FIBA suspensions are expected to be included by Yeng Guiao in the Team Pilipinas pool that will see action in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers that resume next month.

    Naturalized player Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, and Troy Rosario will re-join the previous pool Guiao formed for the second stage of the qualifiers that kicked off last September 13.

    The country will host back-to-back games against Kazakhstan on Nov. 30, followed by Iran on Dec. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

    Blatche, Castro, Romeo, and Rosario will serve out their three-game suspension for their roles in the July brawl between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia in the match against Kazakhstan and will be eligible for selection for the Iran rematch.

    Also certain of inclusion are big men June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, and promising teen Kai Sotto, who was named to the pool in the wake of reports that he ie being recruited to join the Real Madrid youth program.

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    Guiao is set to present a new pool of between 18 to 20 players before the PBA board under chairman Ricky Vargas – whose term has been extended for another season - in a special meeting to be held on Nov. 6 at the league office in Libis, Quezon City.

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      The sit-down meeting will be a mere formality in order for Guiao to inform the board of the players he will include in the training pool, according to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.

      “The PBA governors want to know who will be the players in the pool for them (players) to be notified,” said Marcial in a statement. “The board also wants to know the program and the schedule of practices. Pero kahit sino ang players na tawagin, for sure ibibigay yan ng PBA.”

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      Christian Standhardinger, Paul Lee, Alex Cabagnot, Gabe Norwood, Scottie Thompson, Poy Erram, Ian Sangalang, Marcio Lassiter, Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi, Beau Belga, and Asi Taulava were the ones who suited up for Team Pilipinas in a 73-81 loss to Iran in Tehran last Sept. 13.

      Then Stanley Pringle, and the returning Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright took over from Standhardinger, Almazan, and Maliksi when the nationals beat Qatar, 92-81, in a closed-door match held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum four days later.

      The Philippines is currently in third place in Group F with a 5-3 card behind Australia (7-1) and Iran (6-2). New Zealand paces Group E with a 7-1 record followed by Lebanon and Korea, both with 6-2 slates.

      Only the top seven countries after the second round will advance to the FIBA World Cup slated in China next year.

      Team Pilipinas will start preparing for the coming window of the qualifiers once the ongoing Governors Cup playoffs hold its break from Nov. 17 to Dec. 4.

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      “It may even be pushed to Nov. 19 if we’re to have a playoff game for the last quarterfinal berth,” said Marcial.

      Eliminations of the season-ending meet ends on Nov. 4 as the league takes a breather on Wednesday and Friday in observance of All Saints Day and All-Souls Day.

      NLEX battles Rain or Shine while San Miguel faces Meralco when the conference resumes on Saturday at the Big Dome, before Phoenix goes up against Blackwater, and TnT Katropa takes on reigning champion Barangay Ginebra the following day.

      New policies on draft eligibility and a one-year grace period for a player to return to the PBA after moving to another league will also be discussed during the board meeting.

      One proposal is setting the age limit to at least 22 or at any age once the draft applicant has completed his five-year collegiate eligibility.

      Eligibile player may be given a two-year grace period within which a player may apply for the draft once he is declared eligible, Marcial said.

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