While Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese Taipei have enlisted services of centers as naturalized players, Group B mate Japan has included 6-foot-4 guard Ira Brown in its list of pool members submitted to Fiba (international basketball association) for the World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers starting Nov. 24.
Andray Blatche will return for another tour with the Filipinos, who will play the Japanese in the first round at Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports gymnasium in Tokyo, Japan.
Brown plays for the Ryukyu Golden Kings in the Japanese B League and posted efficient numbers for the national team by leading Team Nippon in rebounds, steals and blocks in the 2016 Fiba Asia Challenge Cup in Tehran, Iran.
Born in Corsicana, Texas in the US, Brown went through a two-year period learning the Japanese language extensively. He currently resides in Tokyo.
That was the last time that Brown played for Japan, which has a relatively tall team of homegrown talents led by the versatile Joji Takeuchi, a 6-foot-10 center who has a deft perimeter jumper and is agile to leave other big guns on the move.
Yuta Tabuse, a 5-foot-8 guard who saw action for the Phoenix Suns in the NBA and played against the Filipinos in the 2015 Jones Cup, is not in the roster initially submitted by the Japanese association.
Team Philippines, ranked higher (30th) than Japan (43rd) and Chinese Taipei (57th) in the latest world rankings, will play the Taiwanese and a very familiar foe, Quincy Davis III, at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Nov. 27.
The Filipinos are 1-1 with the Taiwanese in their last two clashes, with the Chinese Taipei victory happening in 2013 in Manila, 84-79, during the first round of the Fiba Asia Cup at Mall of Asia Arena.
Team Philippines got back at the Taiwanese in the Jones Cup in front of a boisterous Taiwanese crowd, 88-72, with Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger and Mike Myers at the helm.
Gilas played that game without its PBA veteran pool members led by June Mar Fajardo, Jason Castro, Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva.
Blatche last played for the Philippines in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship in Manila last May.