No permanent replacement yet for Blatche

John Bryan Ulanday (The Philippine Star) - January 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — After parting ways with long-time naturalized player Andray Blatche, it looks like the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will not be going anywhere looking for his replacement with its first international competition just around the corner.

SBP president Al Panlilio said Stanley Pringle or Christian Standhardinger could be the temporary choice for Gilas Pilipinas, at least for the first window of the upcoming 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers next month.

“In the first window, maybe you’re looking at a Christian Standhardinger or a Stanley Pringle, who have naturalized status as far as FIBA is concerned. That’s been part of the discussions so far,” said Panlilio after confirming that Gilas Pilipinas will be moving on minus Blatche starting this year.

Due to strict FIBA rules of not being able to secure Philippine passports before turning 16, Fil-Am Pringle and Fil-German Standhardinger are not considered as local players in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments.

Pringle and Standhardinger played together for the country in the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Cup, 2018 Asian Games and the just-concluded 2019 SEA Games where rules on Fil-Foreign players are more lenient compared to FIBA sanctioned 5-on-5 plays.

One of them will be returning next Feb. 20 when the Nationals start their FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers campaign against Thailand as SBP admitted that it is yet to start the process of finding and selecting the next Gilas naturalized player.

Set to join them are at least four or five PBA players to back up the current Gilas Pilipinas pool comprising of top draftees Isaac Go of Columbian, Rey Suerte of Blackwater, Matt Nieto of NLEX, Allyn Bulanadi of Alaska and Mike Nieto of Rain or Shine.

“We’re identifying some players we can naturalize. That’s also the process, and it takes time. We’ll have to identify those names. Maybe two to three names that we can put in the pool so we’ll have the elbow room. It depends on what the competition is, who’s injured, you have a back-up,” added Panlilio.

Though the SBP did not drop names, clamors for Ginebra resident import Justine Brownlee and ex-SMB reinforcement Chris McCullough online have gained massive ground.

Brownlee has actually applied for Filipino naturalization in Congress as early as 2018 while McCullough has always been vocal in his desire to become the next Gilas naturalized player.

Right after hearing the news of SBP’s naturalized player search, McCullough even volunteered right away with a quick social media post. 

“I’m on call,” said the 24-year-old cager, who formerly played for Brooklyn in the NBA.

ANDRAY BLATCHE
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