MANILA – Five debutants were included in the 12-man Philippine lineup that will face Iran in the second round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifier on Thursday night at the Azady Gym in Tehran.
Alex Cabagnot, Earl Scottie Thompson and Ian Sangalang will don the Team Philippines jersey for the first time while Beau Belga and John Paul Erram will play for the country in a FIBA-sanctioned tournament for the first time.
Also making it to the roster were Marcio Lassiter, Asi Taulava, Raymond Almazan, and Paul Lee. They joined Team Philippines mainstays Christian Standhardinger, Gabe Norwood and Allein Maliksi.
While it is hard to imagine them getting a huge lead over Iranians in the latter’s home court, the Philippines intend to keep the match close, head coach Yeng Guiao said.
“Ako I just want it to be a close match,” Guiao said. “I just want it to be tight toward the end against a home crowd, against playing in their home court. Mahirap mag-ambisyon na we get a good lead toward the end against Iran in their home court.”
“’Wag lang tayo maiwan. Mailaban lang natin hanggang sa huli, OK na ako doon. Baka may tsamba doon,” he added. “We are about 85 percent ready na for his match with Iran.”
SLAUGHTER, PRINGLE OUT
Greg Slaughter and Stanley Pringle were not included.
Slaughter was still recovering from an ankle injury he sustained in the PBA while Pringle was relegated to reserve list to give way to Standhardinger as naturalized player.
Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright were not included as well – they are serving a one-game suspension each in the aftermath of the brawl between Philippines and Australia Boomers in July.
“Pagdating ng laro, it’s either we win or lose on the credit of this national team that we have on their effort and on the preparation. I don’t think na it’s proper to make excuses after that,” said Guiao.
The Philippine squad will figure in home-and-away matches against Iran, Qatar and Kazakhstan in Round 2 of the World Cup eliminator, carrying over its 4-2 win-loss record from the first round.
Getting to the top three in Group F among Australia (5-1), Iran (5-1), the Philippines (4-2), Kazakhstan (3-3), Japan (2-4), and Qatar (2-4) makes for an automatic berth in the 2019 World Cup in China./PN