MANILA—Losing Jayson Castro will be a blow to the national team program, but Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao believes their talent pool is deep enough to find someone to fill in the shoes of "The Blur."
Guiao revealed on Monday evening that Castro's participation in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup is unsure, as the TNT guard is taking care of "personal priorities."
"We will finalize within the week, if he's going to be staying with the team, or taking a break," said Guiao, who also stressed that Castro cannot be blamed for wanting to step away from Gilas Pilipinas, even for just a little while.
"Si Jayson naman, ang tagal nang nagsilbi sa national team," the coach pointed out. "Ang tagal na talaga siyang nagsisilbi sa national team. I don't think we can say anything against him thinking about taking a break."
But losing a player of Castro's caliber will undoubtedly have a massive impact on the team. Castro remains Gilas' best shot-creator, and in crunch time, the team still goes to "The Blur." He will also leave a leadership void in the squad, being one of the longest-tenured members of the program.
"Jayson Castro 'yun," as Roger Pogoy said. "Best point guard in Asia. So ano, malaking kawalan talaga. Kailangan talaga natin siya."
Pogoy was quick to add that there are other point guards already in the Gilas Pilipinas pool, such as Magnolia's Mark Barroca and Paul Lee, and Barangay Ginebra's Scottie Thompson.
"Kaya naman siguro nila," he said.
Besides, if Castro ends up not playing in the FIBA World Cup, Guiao is confident that a player from the "next generation" step up.
"Of course (Castro will be a big loss)," said Guiao. "Malaking ano 'yun. Pero sa akin naman, malalim 'yung ano natin, 'yung talent pool natin."
"And it's also a time for 'yung mga next generation na mabigyan na ng pagkakataon," he added.
Among the members of the "next generation" is NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena, who is finally set to join his mother team in practice next week, after serving a suspension stemming from his use of substances prohibited by WADA.
"Next week… eligible na to practice si Kiefer. So, he's also one of the guys that we're looking at to take up the place of Jayson," Guiao said.
The team is expected to come to a final decision regarding Castro's status this week. Gilas Pilipinas will convene again on Thursday evening for its second practice.
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