Blatche working hard to get back in shape for Fiba Asia wars
CEBU CITY—Away from the distractions and sheltered from media and fan intrusions, Gilas Pilipinas continued to push hard in its preparation for the 2015 Fiba Asia men’s basketball championship.
Sacrifice has been the operative word of the national squad, one typified by Andray Blatche, the naturalized NBA veteran whose form has been constantly questioned since rejoining the team.
In one particular drill yesterday, Blatche ran up and down the floor as part of a three-man group, rebounding the ball and passing to a teammate in what was a layup contest among the nationals.
He managed to finish all two rounds of the drill before crumpling in a heap on the sidelines, overcome with exhaustion.
While the Gilas camp was supposed to be off-limits to media people, coach Tab Baldwin allowed interviews with journalists here but asked that Blatche’s weight issues not be discussed.
But the American mentor was more than willing to talk about the other sacrifices made by the team as they chase a lone slot to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in this year’s continental championship that will be held in Changsa, in China’s Hunan province.
“It’s a really important phase so that’s why we wanted to relocate. And it’s been very tough on these guys,” said Baldwin.
“The guys that are here, they’re not here because their teams allowed them to play. They’re here because they have a passion and that passion takes a toll on them. At the end of all this, they’re going to come back as better players but also diminished athletes because all these takes its toll on their bodies,”
Most of the players in this team have been stars in their PBA ball clubs, but they have readily yielded their superstar status to further bolster team bond.
“Chemistry isn’t really an issue here because nobody here believes that they’re the star,” said veteran shooter Dondon Hontiveros. “We’re all way past that.”
“That’s something that fans find hard to appreciate,” said Baldwin. “It seems glamorous. It seems always exciting but it’s not. It’s a grind and everybody is away from their families. We tend to gloss over that point sometimes and move on to the juicy stuff that people want to talk about but we should never really underestimate the sacrifice these guys make.” Jonas Rey Panerio, Inquirer Visayas