“Para kang maglalaro nang walang kamay.”
That was how veteran coach Yeng Guiao described the absence of top big men Andray Blatche and June Mar Fajardo from the Philippine national men’s basketball team that is set to compete in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon this week.
“It’s really disappointing,” the NLEX coach who steered the national team in 2009 told InterAksyon. “In the international competitions, the game is a big men’s game. When you learn that your best big man won’t be playing, malaking problema yan.”
Blatche, the team’s naturalized player, begged off from Gilas Pilipinas duty while Fajardo, who joined the team in Beirut, is unlikely to play due to a calf injury.
With Blatche and Fajardo out, expected to step up for the squad are frontliners Japeth Aguilar, Christian Standhardinger, Raymond Almazan and Carl Bryan Cruz who will all try to neutralize the opposing teams’ seven-footers.
Despite that, Guiao believes that all is not lost for Gilas Pilipinas.
“It’s not really hopeless for our national team,” Guiao said. “Sometimes when you realize your best players won’t be playing, there comes the extra effort from the other players. We’re still hoping for the best for Gilas Pilipinas.”