Basketball: Chot Reyes thanks Charles Rhodes for Gilas interest – but will pursue younger naturalised star
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Basketball: Chot Reyes thanks Charles Rhodes for Gilas interest – but will pursue younger naturalised star

CHARLES Rhodes is eager to suit up for Gilas in future tournaments – but coach Chot Reyes has explained that he wants a younger player to become Philippines’ next naturalised star.

Rhodes, 32, helped San Miguel Beermen to win the PBA Commissioner’s Cup in July, winning the best import of the conference award in the process.

He clearly has the skills – but the former Mississippi State forward/centre, who has gained vast experience in Latvia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey, does not quite fit coach Reyes’ profile.

That said, Reyes has publicly thanked the Texan for his interest in representing Gilas, and praised his style of play.

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Gilas are looking for a new naturalised star for future tournaments, after 31-year-old Andray Blatche skipped the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon last month.

Blatche’s availability for the forthcoming FIBA World Cup 2019 qualifiers is also uncertain due to his commitments to Chinese team Xinjiang Flying Tigers.

Rhodes tweeted Reyes last week, stating: “Hello Coach, I want to play for you and the Philippines. Please consider, as I want to represent this country on and off the court.”

That led Reyes to reply: “Appreciate the offer of @officialcrhodes to play for Gilas. We really like his game…. But our mandate in the search for naturalization candidates is to go for youth — in the 23 – 28 yo range. Just like @drayblatche in 2014.”

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Andray Blatche did not appear at the FIBA Asia Cup last month and his availability for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers is unclear. Source: FIBA.

Blatche was 27 when he committed to Philippines in 2014, qualifying in time to play at the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, where he averaged 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds, as well as being the most efficient player at the tournament.

Russell acknowledged Reyes’ search for a younger player, tweeting back: “Thanks coach. I just want to Display my passion and work ethic for this country. And hopefully I can make you very proud with my play. But I understand you are looking for youth. And I hope you all find that. But this is the COLOSSUS, Age ain’t nothing but a Number.”

He signed off with some words of support for Gilas, though, tweeting: “#WeArePBA I’m cheering for #Gilas regardless if I’m on the Team or Not! It’s #TeamPhilippines.”

Reyes admitted last month that the position of naturalised player on his team was unclear ahead of the World Cup qualifying campaign.

Philippines open their qualification programme 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 will be back playing for Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association and there is no guarantee his club will release him for the qualifiers.

Christian Standhardinger, who filled in for Blatche in Lebanon, starts playing for Hong Kong Eastern Lions in the ASEAN Basketball League in November, adding a further complication to the issue.