By Jerome S. Galunan, Jr.
Filipino-American player Andray Blatche will not be joining the Philippine men’s national basketball team, Gilas Pilipinas, as they compete in the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon from August 8 to 20.
Blatche was a member of the Gilas squad that took home gold at the 12th Southeast Asia Basketball Association Championship earlier this year, which earned their spot in the FIBA Asia Cup.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes recently announced the 12-man squad, which includes Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Junemar Fajardo, Carl Bryan Cruz, and Christian Standhardinger.
The 16 teams in the FIBA Asia Cup are also entered in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup qualification round for FIBA Asia and FIBA Oceania.
The Philippines is drawn in Group B, which includes Iraq, Qatar, and China.
In the last two tournaments, in 2013 and 2015, the Philippines took home silver, losing to Iran and China in the finals, respectively.
The last time the Philippines won was in 1986./WDJ