Gilas needs Blatche backup | Inquirer Sports
In Huddle

Gilas needs Blatche backup

/ 12:06 AM May 25, 2017

Andray Blatche. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

Andray Blatche. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/

Instead of getting panicky and problematic over the projected unavailability of naturalized player Andre Blatche in the qualification stage for the 2019 Fiba World Cup, it is sensible for the SBP to sit down and discuss the matter as early as possible.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes and SBP president Al Panlilio are scheduled to meet this week to tackle the issue and finalize a plan to add another naturalized player in the Gilas lineup.


The problem cropped up right after the Seaba Championships because of Blatche’s schedule in the Chinese Basketball Association, which is in conflict with the Asia/Oceania qualifier that will run from August to July next year.


Panlilio’s initial plan was to create a pool of three to choose from.

This is to ensure that coach Reyes will have a naturalized player backup not only in the Asia/Oceania qualifier but in any future international tournament.

Last April, Panlilio announced that even those imports who were playing in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup could be a candidate as long as they were willing to undergo naturalization.

All they have to do is show up in Gilas’ practices so that coach Reyes can evaluate them.

Panlilio said one reason they are inviting the imports playing in the PBA league right now is that they understand Philippine basketball and have an affinity with the local players.

According to Blackwater Elite owner Deoceldo Sy his import, Greg Smith, has expressed willingness to serve as Blatche’s backup.


But of course it depends on Reyes’ requirements.

The 26-year-old Smith, who stands 6-foot-9, played for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks during his four-year stint in the NBA.

Right now, the only naturalized player in the national team is Blatche, who at 30 is a bit old and has only a few years more before retiring.

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The 6-11 former NBA player was not at his best in the just concluded Seaba tournament, compared to when he first suited up for the Philippine team in the 2014 Fiba World Basketball in Spain.

TAGS: 2019 Fiba World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas

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