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Greg’s injury worries Yeng


For the fourth straight time, Greg Slaughter missed another practice of the national team, and Team Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao is wor­ried that the 7-foot center might not be available against Iran at the start of the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

Slaughter is still recovering from a left sprained ankle he sustained in a PBA Governors’ Cup game be­tween his Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and North Port last Wednes­day and has since missed training session of the national team.

As the squad of Guiao had its first and only scrimmage yester­day against the IECO Green War­riors at the Meralco Gym in Quezon City, Slaughter was at the end of the bench observing and obviously absorbing every play – offense and defense – of the national team.

Guiao, however, is concerned.

“That’s my worry,” said Guiao in Filipino. “We’re leaving tomorrow, but he has missed practice with the team. That means if he returns and joins us in practice –one of two – I don’t know if that’s going to be suf­ficient for him to be able to make a significant contribution.”

“Although he doesn’t miss prac­tice, he’s always here with us, he sees what’s happening, in his mind I think he knows the plays, but it’s totally different if you’re just think­ing about it and playing the actual game.”

The national team leaves for Tehran today and will play Iran on Sept. 13 in the fourth window of FIBA World Cup qualifiers before facing Qatar on Sept. 17 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The presence of Slaughter – if he is available – would be a big boost since the national team is up against an Iran side powered by 7-foot-2 center Hamed Hadda­di, formerly of the Memphis Griz­zlies.

Although the Iran national team has the likes of versatile forward Samad Nikkhah Bahrami, Arsalan Kazemi, Aren Davoudi and Moham­mad Jamshidi, Haddadi remains as the primary concern of Guiao that is why it’s crucial for the national team to have Slaughter.

Guiao and his coaching staff had their first look of the national team in action in a scrimmage against the IECO Green Warriors, a team com­posed of PBA D-Leaguers backed by three imports and coached by Ariel Vanguardia.

The national team won, 99-82, but while Guiao is satisfied with the offensive execution of the 14-play­er rotation – since Christian Stand­hardinger also missed the game with a bum stomach – he pointed to the defensive lapses committed in the third quarter.

“We finished the game really strong, we had some lapses with the offensive rebounding. But that’s it,” said Guiao.

“It’s a good test for us, we need­ed this game badly, it’s our only scrimmage before we leave for Iran and we have to put everything into it and make an assessment and evaluation of what we need to do after this game.”

“Defensively we had some mis­communications, mental lapses,” Guiao said. “We left a lot of peo­ple open in transition that’s why I think they got close, threatened us. We kind of relax coming down in transition.”

Though the national team was able to correct that mistake in the fourth quarter, Guiao said they couldn’t do that against a very precise and dangerous Iranians in the game on Thursday.

Slaughter has been advised by doctors not to put too much weight on his left sprained ankle and move around while he tries to recover from the injury.

While he is extra careful not to aggravate to injury, Slaugh­ter said he is joining the national team when it leaves for Tehran today.

“I’ll definitely be going on the trip and be working with our PT (Dexter Aseron). We’ll see how it is if he can do something, see if we can give it a run,” Slaughter said as he continues to wear pro­tection to stabilize the ankle.

Slaughter said that he’s dis­appointed and excited – disap­pointed because of the injury and excited since he has been cleared by FIBA to play without any re­striction for the national team.

Initially, the status of Slaughter is ‘naturalized’ but the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) – led by its president Al Panlilio – ap­pealed for a review as papers were forwarded to the world gov­erning body for basketball.

The decision of FIBA came last Friday – Saturday morning Manila time.

“That’s the biggest hurdle. I can play for the national team the rest of my career without any re­striction. Coach Ryan (Gregorio) told me that’s the most important thing for me,” Slaughter said.