Gilas a tall, fighting team

Gilas a tall, fighting team

June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar

Fajardo, Slaughter, Aguilar PHL frontline vs Kazakhstan

MANILA, Philippines — June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar are big men likely to be among nine men already a cinch to make the Gilas Pilipinas Final 12 two days before the Philippine quintet takes on Kazakhstan in the FIBA World Cup qualifying series at the MOA Arena on Friday.

Gabe Norwood, Arwind Santos, LA Tenorio, Marcio Lassiter, Matthew Wright, Paul Lee and Alex Cabagnot could also make it while Ian Sangalang, Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario are three who are sure to be out of it.

Sangalang has begged off so he can concentrate on his therapy for his injury while Castro and Rosario are to serve out the last of their three-game suspension by FIBA. Castro and Rosario, however, will already be eligible to play in the next game.

Christian Standhardinger is guaranteed to play in the Philippine-Iran match on Dec. 3, but he has to fight it out with Stanley Pringle for a spot in the team against Kazakhstan, according to national coach Yeng Guiao.

The other candidates are Beau Belga, Poy Erram, Scottie Thompson and Gilas cadets Kai Sotto and Ricci Rivero.

“I’m giving Kai the slight chance, but he’s in here really for investment. We’re investing on him as he’s the future of Philippine basketball,” said Guiao of the 16-year-old 7-foot-1 giant.

“He’s not yet physically ready, and he would not be tolerated in international play. He may not be ready yet for the physicality and ruggedness of senior players,” added Guiao.

The national pool will have its final workout tonight before the coaching staff decides on the final roster to be submitted to FIBA tomorrow.

“We already have nine to 10 men in mind. We meet Wednesday night to decide on the final roster,” said Guiao.

Gilas’s goal is to sweep its games against Kazakhstan and Iran to stay ahead of Japan in Group F standings.

“If we win two games, I think we’ll have one foot into the World Cup. We have to win to stay at third. And even if Japan wins its next two games, we’ll still be ahead. But if we lose and Japan wins, we’ll be in trouble,” said Guiao.