By JONAS TERRADO
Coach Yeng Guiao is expected to tinker with his 12-man roster tonight when the national basketball team takes on Qatar in their closed-door FIBA World Cup Qualifiers match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Guiao will likely go with his original plan of inserting Stanley Pringle as naturalized player in lieu of Christian Standhardinger in the lineup that was being finalized at presstime, with Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright possibly joining the squad after serving their one-game suspension in the contest set at 7:30 p.m.
Pringle will give the speed and quickness the PH cagers lacked in Thursday’s 81-73 loss to Iran in the second round opener in Tehran.
Standhardinger is likely to hand the baton to Pringle despite leading all Filipino players in scoring with 30 points against the Iranians.
Greg Slaughter, however, is doubtful to finally make his debut in the qualifiers as his ankle injury has yet to fully heal.
The national cagers are out to win to score a win and boost their chances of securing a berth in next year’s World Cup in China.
The top three teams and possibly the fourth placer in Group F qualify for the World Cup. The Philippines is in third place at 4-3, trailing 6-1 teams Iran and Australia.
Qatar is eager to get back on track after being handed a 95-43 loss to Australia in Doha also last Thursday.
Guiao is hoping to help the team improve its dismal shooting marred by a 5-of-28 clip from three-point country against Iran. The woes were evident in the fourth quarter when the Philippines allowed Iran to pull away.
Except for a selected few, no people will be allowed to see the action in the flesh as part of FIBA’s punishment in the country’s role in the July 2 brawl against Australia at the Philippine Arena.
Only officials from FIBA and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and several mediamen will be allowed inside the Big Dome.