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Blatche seeks redemption in Dubai

/ 04:02 AM January 14, 2020

Andray Blatche is hoping for redemption when he gets to lead a loaded Mighty Sports squad in the Dubai International Basketball Tournament later this month.

He also gets to see first hand how good Kai Sotto has become.

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“Definitely, what happened in China left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths,” he said after the team’s practice in Makati on Monday, referring to Gilas’ last World Cup stint where the Filipinos were bamboozled by superior opposition. “I don’t expect to come back here without getting a championship in Dubai. We got the right pieces, the right players and a good situation going on.”

Blatche was obviously thrilled with the idea of spearheading an exciting mix of talent—one that will parade the likes of fellow World Cup veteran Renaldo Balkman and teen NBA hopeful Sotto. UAAP standouts and Gilas pool members Thirdy Ravena, Javi and Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Dave Ildefonso are also in the team.

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The team leaves on July 21. The competition begins two days later.

The 6-foot-11 center also couldn’t keep his excitement on the thought of playing alongside Sotto: “He’s got high basketball IQ.”

“It’s basically off smartness and feel for the game—the spaces, the cuts and the screens,” Blatche added. “He should be good.”

Meanwhile, Blatche, now 33, said that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) hasn’t reached out to him yet for another stint with Gilas.

Earlier this month, the SBP revealed that it has begun looking for new candidates for a naturalized player and even publicly reached out to former San Miguel Beer import Chris McCullough.

Blatche, who was the Nationals’ go-to center in its last two World Cup stints, said he has seen the 24-man talent pool, half of which are amateurs.

“I’ve seen a couple of guys that weren’t at all surprising. But it also depends on which import they are going to bring in,” he said. INQ

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