Guiao: Injuries decided Final 12; Gilas came down to choosing between Belga, Almazan

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao bared that “certain events and circumstances” pretty much decided the final 12-man roster of the Philippines for the 2019 FIBA World Cup, two days after the line-up was released.

Speaking at the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum Tuesday, Guiao said having injuries to Marcio Lassiter, Matthew Wright, and Poy Erram became a big factor in his decision.

“Yung composition ng team as I’ve said, certain events and circumstances came into play which made it easier (to pick the Final 12). The injuries to Poy, Marcio, and Matt, practically decided the outcome of the 12-man line-up. Konti na lang yung pinag-usapan namin,” said Guiao.

The Gilas 12 for the World Cup is made of Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Raymond Almazan, Roger Pogoy, CJ Perez, Robert Bolick, Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, and Kiefer Ravena.

Guiao even shared that the squad chose from Almazan and Beau Belga for the final roster spot.

“Maybe we really came to a point where it was between Beau Belga or Raymond Almazan. But Raymond kasi, got injured in the last window. Hindi siya nakalaro so we felt this is the time for him to actually experience and play na rin sa World Cup,” said Guiao.

The mentor made it clear that everyone deserved to be part of the World Cup, and even if the others didn’t make the cut, Guiao still felt they could have been part of the final roster too.

“Everybody, it does not mean the rest of the guys who were injured are not deserving. Everybody is deserving, including the rookies,” said the NLEX Road Warriors mentor.

Guiao also praised Bolick and Perez, two PBA rookies who have played well for the national team and earned their spots for the Worlds.

“As you know, they’ve played well in the games you’ve seen, but even in the closed door games, in the two games they’ve played. That helped us a lot in making the decision,” he said.

“The mere fact they were able to adjust their game from the PBA to the world-class level in a short time says a lot about these two guys. They have not experienced this competition yet but in the short time, they were able to upgrade their style, their game, so I have no doubt they will do well in the World Cup.”

Gilas will open the World Cup group stages against Italy on Saturday, August 31.