Coach Chot Reyes remains confident of Gilas Pilipinas’ chances against Japan and Taiwan in the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers next week despite the uncertainties on naturalized player Andray Blatche’s arrival and an injury to ace scorer Terrence Romeo.
Reyes didn’t rule out the possibility of fielding an all-Filipino lineup though Blatche was scheduled to arrive last night from China after several delays while Romeo has been reduced to a mere spectator in most of Gilas practices because of a knee contusion.
But Reyes expressed belief that the national team can pass the test against Japan on Nov. 24 in Tokyo and Taiwan three days later at the Smart Araneta Coliseum amid both dilemmas and lethargic showings in tune-up matches with Alab Pilipinas and depleted PBA squads Rain or Shine and NLEX.
“I think we have a very good chance against Japan, I think we have a very good chance against Taiwan,” Reyes said during yesterday’s sendoff hosted by Chooks To Go at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Reyes won’t reveal his 12-man roster until the eve of the game against Japan, but reiterated that his earlier pronouncement that the composition will depend on whether Blatche will finally show up.
Blatche was supposed to arrive last week to participate in Gilas’ three-day training camp in Tagaytay City but the former NBA player was asked by his Chinese team Xinjiang Flying Tigers to stick around before flying to Manila.
“We’re preparing to play all-Filipino because we’ll never know kung anung nangyayari sa sitwasyon kay Andray. Until he’s here, that’s the only time we can only be certain,” said Reyes.
Reyes has also not ruled out any player from the 16-man pool, which will all fly to Tokyo on Tuesday. That includes Romeo, whose injury has left many to worry if last season’s PBA topscorer would play in both games.
“I guess the best way to say is parang day-to-day, or hindi naman day-to-day, but it’s unsure,” Reyes said. “We really don’t know until the time comes. He’s come to a few practices, but hasn’t been able to do any scrimmages. But he’s still part of the pool.”
Reyes and Gilas will be in for a tough challenge against the Japanese team led by naturalized player Ira Brown, who made a good impression in the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon last August.
Against Taiwan at home, Gilas is up against familiar foe in naturalized player Quincy Davis, who is back after missing the FIBA Asia due to an injury.
Reyes has the option to change his 12-man roster for the Big Dome duel with the Taiwanese cagers.