Blatche asiad stint
SEVILLE, Spain—Chot Reyes knew that Gilas Pilipinas was taking a risk when he named Andray Blatche to the team that will be shooting for the cage gold in the Incheon Asian Games next month.
And it was a gamble he was all too willing to take.
“With Blatche, we have a chance, no matter how slim it is,” Reyes told the Inquirer Friday night, a few hours before the Filipinos were to play their first World Cup game since 1978 by battling tall and beefy Croatia.
“We could have played it safe [and not named Blatche to the team] and not win,” added Reyes. “We go all out for the gold, and if he gets disqualified, that’s it. We go all out because we want to win the gold.
“I am sure, our Asian neighbors have seen us (the team with Blatche) and we competed well against France and the Dominican Republic,” he continued. “When we named him [to the Asian Games team], yes, we knew [that there could be an eligibility issue].
“But you know, we asked the opinion of the SBP and they said: ‘Yes, he can play.’”
Blatche’s eligibility is being questioned by the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee due to an Asiad rule requiring a three-year residency for naturalized players.
The SBP gave Reyes an assurance that the 6-foot-11 former Brooklyn Net in the NBA is eligible for the Asiad because he was cleared by the Fiba to play in the World Cup and the Asian Games will be using Fiba rules and will be run by Fiba personnel.
But that hasn’t been the case lately, as the Iagoc is applying Olympic Council of Asia rules that will prevent not only Blatche, but several other naturalized players from playing in Incheon, including Chinese Taipei’s Quincy Davis III.
The Philippines hasn’t won the Asian Games gold since 1962 and, if Blatche could play in Korea, it would boost its chance of regaining supremacy in the region in ages.
“Natatakot ang ibang bansa (Other countries now fear us), especially in Asia,” Reyes said.
The Philippines beat South Korea in the Final Four of the World Cup Qualifying in Manila last year even with Marcus Douthit being injured as early as the first quarter.
“Tinitira lang naman talaga tayo ng (We are actually being singled out by) Korea,” Reyes concluded.