Reyes: Gilas prepared to play without Blatche
Despite having limited time of preparation, Gilas Pilipinas is even prepared for the worst heading into its Fiba World Cup qualifying duels against Japan and Chinese Taipei beginning Nov. 24.
National team head coach Chot Reyes said the Philippines will be ready to play even in the possibility of naturalized player Andray Blatche not being able to suit up.
“We have an understanding in this team and you can ask any player here, that while it’s good to have a naturalized player, we have to prepare as if we don’t have a naturalized player,” Reyes told reporters Saturday during Gilas’ sendoff at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Pasig.
“So if we have to go to the games against Japan and Taiwan all-Filipino with just the gentlemen here in this room then, so be it and we are prepared to do so.”
Blatche has yet to rejoin Gilas since leading the team in the 2017 Seaba Championship last May.
“He was originally scheduled to arrive on the 12th or 13th, but at the last minute, his Chinese ball club didn’t allow and asked him to play their last two games last Wednesday and last night,” said Reyes. “So he’s just going to come over here late tonight.”
But until Blatche, who signed a reported three-year $7.5 million deal with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association in 2015, actually shows up, Reyes isn’t leaving anything to chance.
“So that’s why we scheduled two practices tomorrow (Sunday) to get him up to speed right away. so hopefully, like I said, that’s one of the main reasons why we’re not releasing the final lineup, unless Andray is actually here then we cannot make any final pronouncements.”