Full strength Gilas Pilipinas soon as Blatche arrival looms
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine national basketball team will be back in full strength on Saturday with the arrival of naturalized center Andray Blatche from the United States.
Blatche will rejoin with Gilas Pilipinas on Monday but the 7-foot big man will get his warm-up with NLEX, Yeng Guiao’s club team in the PBA, once he returns.
Gilas assistant coach Caloy Garcia, who oversaw the team’s practice in Guiao’s absence, said that the intensity on Monday’s practice will turn up a notch with Blatche’s presence.
“I think coach Yeng is hoping he’s [Blatche] in shape because the last time he came from China he was in shape,” said Garcia Thursday at Meralco Gym.
Blatche has been with Gilas since 2014 in the Fiba Basketball World Cup where he became the tournament’s second-leading scorer with 21.2 points per game while also grabbing a tourney-best 13.4 rebounds.
Although he didn’t win a medal in his first stint with the Philippines, Blatche got his first hardware in the 2015 Fiba Asia Championships when Gilas won the silver medal.
Blatche’s first gold medal with Gilas was in the 2017 SEABA Championship.
The locals also prepped up for Blatche with a quick 35-minute walkthrough as they only knew about their teammate’s arrival during the post-practice huddle.
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