by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Tehran, Iran)
8:30 p.m. – Iran vs Philippines
Team Pilipinas hopes to weather the absence of 7-foot center Greg Slaughter when it takes on host Iran to begin the second round of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers tonight at the Azadi Basketball Hall in Tehran.
Slaughter was left off the 12-man roster for the 5 p.m. local time (8:30 p.m. Manila time) owing to an ankle injury sustained during last week’s PBA match for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
With Slaughter’s injury far from completely healed, Team Pilipinas was forced to install 6-foot-8 Christian Standhardinger as its naturalized player to cope with the height disadvantage against an Iranian side powered by 7-foot-2 veteran Hamed Haddadi.
Coach Yeng Guiao is perhaps disappointed not to see Slaughter play his first major international match, especially after FIBA ruled the Fil-American as a local player for such tournaments.
Slaughter got hurt while going for a rebound during Ginebra’s win over NorthPort last Sept. 4.
Standhardinger’s inclusion leaves speedy Stanley Pringle, also listed as naturalized player by FIBA, on the sidelines alongside Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright.
Aguilar and Wright will serve a one-game suspension for their role in the infamous brawl with Australia last July at the Philippine Arena.
Other players included by Guiao are centers Raymond Almazan, Poy Erram, Asi Taulava and Ian Sangalang, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Scottie Thompson, Beau Belga and Allein Maliksi.
Almazan, Erram, Taulava, Lee and Norwood, Belga and Standhardinger will don the national team jersey weeks after being part of the Guiao-mentored national squad that placed fifth in the Asian Games in Jakarta.
Lassiter last played for the national team in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship while Thompson and Sangalang are set for their first Philippine appearance in a major competition.
Norwood and Maliksi are the only holdovers from the Philippine team that played in the previous window under coach Chot Reyes.
Aside from Haddadi, Iran will also have the cerebral Samad Nikkah Bahrami who is out to atone for his dismal showing in the Asian Games final where his team lost to China for the gold.
Tags: Allein Maliksi, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Christian Standhardinger, Coach Yeng Guiao, FIBA Asia Championship, FIBA World Cup, Gabe Norwood, Greg Slaughter, Hamed Haddadi, Ian Sangalang, Japeth Aguilar, Marcio Lassiter, Raymond Almazan, Scottie Thompson, Team Pilipinas