Blatche ‘apologized’ to Gilas for subpar showing, says Reyes
National team coach Chot Reyes isn’t losing sleep with Andray Blatche playing his worst game as a member of Gilas Pilipinas on Monday.
The naturalized player only mustered six points on a 2-of-9 shooting from the field, while also committing six turnovers in the Philippines’ 90-83 victory over Chinese Taipei in the first leg of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
But the seasoned mentor added the former NBA veteran was the first to reach out to his teammates after his lackluster showing.
“He apologized personally to the team after the game at the dugout tonight. I think we’ve seen the worst of Andray’s games,” said Reyes.
Blatche had a forgetful offensive night but he more than made up for his shooting woes on the defensive end, hauling down 15 rebounds and blocking five shots in 28 minutes on the floor.
His mere presence alone was also key in helping June Mar Fajardo churn out his best game to date in national team duty, with the four-time PBA MVP posting 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.
“With all the attention Andray is getting, it allows June Mar to operate in the post by himself,” Reyes said.
Still, Reyes made it clear that he’s far from satisfied with Blatche’s performance and he is keeping his fingers crossed that the 31-year-old big man will have better conditioning come February for the second leg of the qualifiers.
“Hopefully, in the next window, he’s gonna be in better basketball shape. He would have been playing for a couple of months in China, so that should be able to help,” he said.
Reyes is also pining for Blatche to have more time with the national team pool.
“The key is to get him practicing with us for more than five days, like what happened today.”
“It’s really hard that he’s not in sync with our little counters, the little things that we do. We can’t teach everything in five days. You might be able to teach everything but to actually practice it, run it, make it instinct, you can’t get that in five days.”
Blatche arrived in the country on November 19, giving him only less than a week to acclimate and blend in with his teammates before Gilas flew to Tokyo and faced Japan.
Reyes knows crucial Blatche is to Gilas especially against the big teams like Australia.
“We’re not too worried. We’d still rather have Andray than not have him, especially when we play the big teams. We’d still rather have Andray at this point,” he said.
The Philippines plays Australia, which is also undefeated at 2-0, next in February.
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