Andray Blatche will no-show for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup.
Lebanon is near Syria… and that place has issues.
In some ways, Andray is just protecting his career. Even if he’s just about to turn 31, Blatche can pretty much bid his NBA career adieu with the youth movement and with the way they treat the veterans. Blatche is in the third year of his three-year contract with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers and he’s looking to preserve his health for his future’s sake.
But so are the other players in Gilas Pilipinas.
So Lebanon gets a free spot as the host nation. The host team is joined by the Philippines (SEABA champs), Kazakhstan (Central Asia), Qatar (Gulf Basketball Championship), China, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong (East Asia), Iran, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria (West Asia), India (South Asia), and the two wildcards from the former FIBA Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).
Gilas Pilipinas and defending champs China are pitted in Group B alongside Iraq and Qatar. Group B’s Iran is expected to breeze past Jordan, Syria, and India. Host Lebanon will have their hands full against South Korea, Kazakhstan, and New Zealand in Group C. And Australia are considered as favorites in Group D with Japan, Hong Kong, and Chinese Taipei as potential tormentors.
I don’t know how Gilas will survive without a naturalized player. I do like their chances to evolve as a team. For starters, FIBA Asia is just a tournament for bragging rights. It will not be a qualifier for any world tourney. It will also be a statement to the critics who believe that the squad is solely dependent on their hired gun.
Anyway, here are the twelve names to enlist for the cage wars.
GILAS PILIPINAS 12
|PROJECTED STARTERS||POS||PBA TEAM|
|JUNE MAR FAJARDO||C||SAN MIGUEL|
|GABE NORWOOD||F||RAIN OR SHINE|
|RAYMOND ALMAZAN||C||RAIN OR SHINE|
|CARL BRYAN CRUZ||F||ALASKA|
Of the names included on this list, I like the entry of Norwood the most. I know Castro, Romeo, and Wright will unleash their awesomeness but I believe Chot Reyes needs a defensive specialist of Norwood’s calibre. You can play Norwood against their team’s chief playmaker and perhaps even unleash him to their long-range shooting power forward. Norwood blocked that Korean to help us seal the victory in 2013.
And he’s also an underrated international play scorer.
Remember his glorious dunks against Luis Scola and the rest of Argentina back in 2014?
Norwood is only 32 years old so it baffles me that some would think that he’s too old. I can still remember how important Allan Caidic was when he played for the 1998 Centennial Dream Team and he was already 35 at that time. Caidic’s age is a year removed from Jimmy Alapag’s age when he helped Gilas Pilipinas in 2013 en route to Spain.
So yeah, more reasons why Gabe Norwood’s Gilas Pilipinas return is awesome.