Andray Blatche to join Gilas for Fiba Qualifiers in February
So far, Andray Blatche is still the man for Gilas Pilipinas.
The naturalized center is expected to don the national colors in the second window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers in February.
Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio guaranteed that the 31-year-old center will be available for the national team’s tough draw against Australia on February 22 at Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne and a rematch versus Japan on February 25 at home at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We have already made communication,” he said as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has already reached out to Blatche’s mother ballclub Xinjiang Flying Tigers and the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
Antonio is confident that there won’t be problems when it comes to Blatche’s availability with a new protocol in place.
“We sent a letter already and we’re just waiting for their response because that’s the protocol now. You have to write a letter to the team through the CBA and you will just have to wait for their reply, but more often than not, they will release him. It’s just a matter of when,” said Antonio.
Antonio said that SBP has detailed to the CBA when the Gilas Pilipinas needs Blatche to join its training and when he can return to his mother team in China.
“The general notion in the CBA is when one team releases, everybody who’s part of a national team gets released all at the same time. It cannot be later. It can be earlier if the team allows, but more often than not, they’ll all be released at the same time,” he said.
Blatche has seen limited action this CBA season with Xinjiang due to his hamstring injury, averaging 12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.2 blocks in 20.5 minutes of action in the five games.
He last played on December 1 in the Flying Tigers’ 99-115 defeat to Jiangsu Nangang Dragons.
But the soft-spoken executive is upbeat that Blatche will be at full strength once rejoins Gilas.
“We’re in touch with his agent and he seems OK. I think he has healed,” he said.
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