Tim Cone explains decision to exclude Justine Baltazar from Asian Games roster

Given the limited time remaining to prepare for the Asian Games, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone stated that he cannot afford to include the 6-foot-9 Justine Baltazar in his lineup at this moment.

Cone stated during an interview on Noli Eala’s Power and Play that he is searching for players he’s already familiar with.

“First of all, I wouldn’t mind. But I don’t know him,” said Cone. “(The) last time I saw him play was in La Salle what two, three years ago during the pandemic?”

“We are going to go with guys who are familiar to us at this point,” added the PBA’s winningest mentor.

This means he is keeping June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, and Japeth Aguilar from the FIBA World Cup roster, along with naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame.

Also expected to join the lineup are Roger Pogoy and pool players Chris Newsome and Calvin Oftana.

“If we had a pool, we can bring (Baltazar) in and take a look at him, then fine, that would be great. But at this point, it’s just, if I have more time, then yes, we would invite him,” said Cone.

The interview was conducted prior to Cone’s apology to the Baltazar camp for insinuating that the player “lacked interest” in joining the national team.

Cone acknowledged that Baltazar may have been correct in his assertion that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas did not invite him to the training pool for the FIBA World Cup.

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