ALREADY beset with serious manpower issues, Smart Gilas faces more personnel problems with the inavailability of key players for the International Basketball Federation (Fiba)-Asia Stankovic Cup.
Only 10 players are currently available for the team in the event set from August 7 to 15—four key players are set to miss the tournament—and the possibility of pulling out is apparently being considered by management although there is no official word yet from the top brass of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
“There’s no final decision yet. We have only 10 players on the team and only one center [Jason Ballesteros]. But I would like to go on competing,” coach Rajko Toroman told the BusinessMirror on Sunday.
“Rabeh [Al-Hussaini] and Greg [Slaughter] have school obligations, while Chris Lutz and Marcus Douthit have no Filipino passports yet,” he added.
The Philippines is Southeast Asia’s representative in the tournament and is bracketed in Group B with defending champion Jordan, host Lebanon, Qatar and Syria. Fiba-Asia champion Iran heads Group A that also includes Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan and Chinese Taipei.
It will be very difficult to compete against the powerhouse teams in Asia without his key big men but Toroman said withdrawing from the tournament could mean possible sanctions from Fiba.
The six-foot-seven Al-Hussaini and six-foot-11 Slaughter need to complete their school requirements while Lutz and Douthit, the American candidates for naturalization, have yet to secure Philippine passports.
The Stankovic Cup allows only the national teams of the participating countries.
Toroman is hoping Al-Hussaini and Slaughter would be available so he can field the same lineup he had in the Dubai Invitational tournament where the country finished third.
“I did not know that Greg and Rabeh won’t be available,” Toroman said.
The Serbian mentor, who helped Iran secure its first Olympic stint in the 2008 Beijing Games, is also aware of the sanctions that Fiba could imposed on the country but he’s still hoping that the country could still participate.
“It will be a good tournament before the Asian Games,” Toroman said, referring to the quadrennial meet set this November in Guangzhou, China.
BusinessMirror could not reach Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim and SBP executive director Noli Eala for comment.
Joel Orellana, Business Mirror