By JONAS TERRADO
Terrence Romeo is all but assured of missing Gilas Pilipinas’ 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers match against Japan on Friday after failing to join the team’s flight for Tokyo yesterday.
Romeo had been dealing with a knee contusion since Gilas started training earlier this month and Gilas coach Chot Reyes even hinted that the GlobalPort star’s absence would be a big loss in the first window of the qualifiers.
Reyes, however, said during Gilas’ sendoff over the weekend that there’s a very slim chance that Romeo may suit up not only in the Japan match but also in the home game against Taiwan on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But it appears that Romeo will be forced to play the spectator role as Gilas tries to win both games to gain a headstart in the Group B qualifiers.
Reyes, his coaching staff and the 15 players on the Gilas pool arrived in the Japanese capital after boarding a Philippine Airlines flight from Manila yesterday morning.
He will not reveal his 12-man lineup for the Japan duel until Thursday or the eve of the game. Reyes has the option to change his roster for Monday’s meeting with the Taiwanese cagers.
Sure to make the roster is naturalized player Andray Blatche, who rejoined Gilas Sunday after lengthy delays caused by his stint with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Blatche appeared to be in tip-top shape as he participated in Gilas’ twin practices Sunday at the Meralco gym and at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and in Monday’s final workout before leaving for Japan.
Other players in Tokyo are June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Kiefer Ravena, Raymond Almazan, Roger Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, Matthew Wright, Kevin Alas, Allein Maliksi and Mac Belo.