INQUIRER.NET

Blatche, Fajardo lead 23-man Gilas pool for World Cup qualifiers

Philippines’ center Andray Blatche dunks the ball against Singapore. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.net

Andray Blatche is set to team up anew with four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo and one of Asia’s top guards Jayson Castro as they headline Gilas Pilipinas’ 23-man pool for the 2019 Fiba World Cup qualifiers.

National team coach Chot Reyes has submitted the list of names on Friday. The Philippine team has already started its preparations for the first leg of the Asian qualifiers scheduled later this month.

The last time Blatche saw action for Gilas was during the 2017b Seaba Championship last May.

The Xinjiang Flying Tigers center was sent back home to the United States by his mother ball club due to injury, but Reyes shared that the Syracuse native is expected to arrive in Manila on Nov. 12 to join the team’s trainings.

Also making the cut are mainstays Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Japeth Aguilar, and Gabe Norwood, returnees Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi, Troy Rosario, Kevin Alas, Baser Amer, and LA Revilla, cadets Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Carl Bryan Cruz, Kevin Ferrer, Mike Tolomia, Von Pessumal, and Russel Escoto, and PBA rookie Kiefer Ravena.

Thirteen of the 23 names attended Gilas’ evening session at Meralco Gym.

Jalalon, who is nursing a lateral colateral ligament sprain, dropped by, while Romeo are Ravena are still out-of-town, but will immediately join the squad’s sessions upon their return.

The Philippines is slotted in Group B of the Asian qualifiers, together with reigning 2017 Fiba Asia champions Australia, and regional rivals Japan and Chinese Taipei.

Gilas opens its quest for a slot in the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China on Nov. 24 against Japan at Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Gymnasium in Tokyo, before flying home and taking on Chinese Taipei on Nov. 27 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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