QUALIFIERS for the 2019 FIBA World Cup get underway in November – but Philippines are yet to settle on a naturalised player amid uncertainty over both Andray Blatche and Christian Standhardinger.
National coach Chot Reyes, whose team finished seventh at the recent FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon, admitted getting the services of former NBA centre Blatche for the qualifying games will not be easy due to the format and schedule.
Philippines will go on the road to play Japan, Australia and Chinese Taipei, as well as hosting the same teams in Manila in the new home-and-away format.
They open their qualification campaign in Japan on November 24, before hosting Chinese Taipei three days later. They travel to Australia in February and Chinese Taipei in June.
By November, Blatche – who skipped the FIBA Asia Cup – will be back playing for Xinjiang Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association and there is no guarantee his club will release him for the qualifiers.
The 31-year-old, a nine-season NBA veteran, is also without a Gilas contract after the last negotiations were curtailed following his decision to withdraw from the FIBA Asia Cup squad.
“There’s a complication with Andre Blatche, because by November he will be playing in his Chinese team, so we do not know if his Chinese team is going to allow him to play,” Reyes told SPIN.ph.
“We do not know (with) Andre because we need to have something concrete. We do not have something concrete because we do not know what package we will give him.”
Standhardinger stepped in for Blatche in Lebanon, where he averaged 16 points and 5.7 points, a well as shooting 60.6 percent from the field. However, he only featured in three of Gilas’ six games.
The Filipino-German big man will start playing for Hong Kong Eastern Lions in the ASEAN Basketball League in November.
“That’s just how difficult our situation is,” said Reyes. “Maybe some of you are saying we’re just being cute because we cannot answer, but that’s the truth, our situation is very difficult.”
Several current and former PBA imports have indicated a willingness to play for Gilas as naturalised players but the process itself can be lengthy and far from straightforward.