Questions about potential eligibility issues came out on social media just days after the Philippine Men’s Basketball National Team head coach Joseller ‘Yeng’ Guiao announced the preliminary line-up for the upcoming 18th Asian Games.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) finally reached an agreement to send a delegation to the men’s basketball event after a withdrawal was announced by the SBP a couple of weeks ago, giving the hastily-assembled Gilas Pilipinas less than two weeks to prepare for a competitive appearance in the quadrennial event.
The team was formed around the core of six Rain or Shine players, namely Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga, James Yap, Chris Tiu, and Maverick Ahanmisi. Also in the mix are Paul Lee (Magnolia), Christian Standhardinger (San Miguel), Don Trollano (Talk N Text), Asi Taulava (NLEX), Stanley Pringle (Global Port), JP Erram (Blackwater), and Gilas cadets Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras.
Currently, there are five Filipino-foreigners in the preliminary roster, including first time national team members Stanley Pringle and Filipino-Nigerian Maverick Ahanmisi. And while Pringle was able to suit up for the Philippines during the recent FIBA 3X3 World Cup in Manila, he is not eligible to play as a local in five-on-five FIBA tournaments.
Most spectators are familiar with the FIBA eligibility rules, but it is worth noting that the Asian Games Organizing Committee follow the Olympic Council of Asia, which has a totally different set of rules. The OCA rules state that the players who acquires a new nationality should be residing in the country they intend to represent for three consecutive years:
“A competitor who has represented one country in the Olympic Games, OCA GAMES , continental, regional, and world championships recognised by the relevant IF, and who has changed his nationality or acquired a new nationality, shall not participate in the OCA GAMES to represent his new country until three years after such change or acquisition;”
Asi Taulava and Gabe Norwood had bannered the Philippine flag in both FIBA and Asian Games events in the past, so they should be in the clear. In the case Pringle and Ahanmisi, both also appear to be qualified given they have been competing in the Philippines since 2014.
On the other hand, Christian Standhardinger, who missed the first team practice session perhaps due to his club team still being in the middle of playing in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Finals, is the one player potentially in danger of being ruled out.
The Filipino-German forward has represented Gilas Pilipinas multiple times during FIBA competitions as a naturalized player, but as FIBA columnist Enzo Flojo points out, he might not be able to do so in the upcoming Asiad due to not having met the three-year residency requirement.
The same rule barred naturalized center Andray Blatche from suiting up for the Philippines back in 2014 during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Will any of the players be barred from competing? The National Federation has sent the revised line-up for the approval of the Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (INAGOC), and we should find out the final 12-man line-up before the team leaves for Jakarta on the 14th.
The 18th Asian Games basketball games will be held at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno Basketball Hall in Jakarta, Indonesia between August 19 and September 1.
Follow the author on Twitter at @kicksmvp.