Blatche, Norwood, Aguilar headline Philippines World Cup pool
MANILA (Philippines) - After weeks of holding out, the Philippines finally released their 19-man pool for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 in China, and the list is headlined by veterans Andray Blatche, Gabe Norwood and Japeth Aguilar.
Blatche flew to Manila last Friday and reported for the national team's practice session tonight, with head coach Yeng Guiao releasing his World Cup pool soon after training ended.
|Philippines pool for 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup|
|Japeth Aguilar||Raymond Almazan||Mark Barroca||Beau Belga|
|Andray Blatche||Robert Bolick||Jordan Clarkson||JP Erram|
|June Mar Fajardo||Marcio Lassiter||Paul Lee||Gabe Norwood|
|CJ Perez||RR Pogoy||Stanley Pringle||Kiefer Ravena|
|Troy Rosario||Christian Standhardinger||Matthew Wright|
Of the 19 players handpicked by Guiao, 17 saw action in the Asian Qualifiers, with Norwood playing in every single fixture for the Filipinos, while Aguilar donned the Philippine colors in all but one match.
Five-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo was a sure fire choice by Guiao, while old reliables Matthew Wrght, RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Marcio Lassiter also made the cut.
Kiefer Ravena makes his return to the World Cup pool along with two players who didn't play in the Asian Qualifiers - CJ Perez and Robert Bolick. Perez last played for the Philippines at the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016, while Bolick will potentially see action for the men's national team for the first time ever.
One unexpected move from Guiao was the inclusion of naturalized players Christian Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle and NBA guard Jordan Clarkson in the pool, giving the coaching staff four options to take the single naturalized player spot on the team.
"We will have to make assessments as we practice," Guiao explained. "It is a back-up plan. Knock on wood, I hope nothing happens to Andray, but at least we have options on the naturalized players just in case anything untoward happens."
Standhardinger and Pringle each played two games in the Asian Qualifiers, with the former averaging 23.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per contest, while the latter registered 21.0 points and 4.5 boards per match.
Clarkson, for his part, last played for the national team in Asian Games 2018, where the Philippines failed to make it past the Quarter-Finals.
The Filipinos are in Group D in China, and they will tip their campaign off against Italy on 31 August. They play Serbia next on 2 September before closing the group phase against Angola on 4 September. All the Group D fixtures will be played at the Foshan International Sports & Cultural Arena.
The national team are headed to Spain for a training camp and pocket tournament from 4-12 August, where they are set to face Congo, Cote d'Ivoire and perhaps hosts Spain. Before heading to China for the World Cup, the Filipinos will wrap their training up with a pair of tune-up games against the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian NBL on 23 and 25 August.