In-form Blatche finally shows up for training
Andray Blatche finally joined the Gilas Pilipinas training on Sunday. Unlike in the previous times, he looked very much in game shape.
But Blatche has less than a week to relearn the system and make Gilas play at full strength against Japan as the first window of the Fiba World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers starts Friday in Tokyo.
“We basically had to go back, almost, to square one, because we’re doing things that he (Blatche) is just picking up now,” coach Chot Reyes said after the first of two practice sessions on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Club commitments in China forced Blatche to arrive late after camp started on Nov. 3.
“That’s why we’re going to have two practices [on Sunday], so he could catch up,” Reyes added.
In Blatche’s previous stints with Gilas, the 6-foot-11 former Brooklyn Net in the NBA was out of shape, having been away for a considerable amount of time.
Being under contract in the Chinese Basketball Association’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Reyes and the rest of the Filipinos has Blatche in his best form.
In his last two games in China, Blatche averaged 25 points and 12.5 rebounds against topnotch competition, definitely higher than what the Filipinos will encounter in their first two Fiba matches against Japan and Chinese Taipei.
“He played 30-32 minutes [on average in the last two games in China], so he’s in pretty good shape,” Reyes said.
The Filipinos fly out on Wednesday and will be looking to keep an impressive record going against the Japanese, who will be bannered by their own naturalized player, 6-foot-5 shooting guard Ira Brown, and the talented 6-foot-10 center Joji Takeuchi.
The match against the Taiwanese happens on Nov. 27, also at the Big Dome.
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