Naturalized 6’10 import Andray Blatche will arrive on Saturday to join the Gilas Pilipinas national team training for the 28th FIBA Asia Championship on September 23 to October 3 in Changsha Hunan, China. The meet will also serve as a qualifier for the 2016 Olympics.
Antonio said that the former National Basketball Association player is expected to attend the practice of Gilas Pilipinas on Monday at the Meralco Gym in Ortigas.
“Andray will join the team on Monday after a one day rest. He will arrive Saturday night from China and that’s for sure. He already confirmed his arrival,” Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio told The Manila Times in a phone interview. “Nobody can stop him to play for us.”
Blatche, a former Brooklyn Nets and Washington Wizards forward, first played for Gilas during the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. He expressed his desire to play with the national team under new head coach Tab Baldwin. Blatche registered an average of 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per game in five games during the FIBA World Cup.
Antonio was also satisfied with his initial meeting with the players that joined Gilas’ first day of practice on Wednesday at the Meralco Gym. “Everybody wanted to become part of the Philippine team that’s why many of them are excited,” he added. “Monday we’ll have a practice again. There are 11 players who showed up.”
Among those who attended the practice were former national players Gary David of Meralco, Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort, veteran Paul Asi Taulava of Northern Luzon Expressway, Dondon Hontiveros of Alaska, and incoming 6’7 rookie Troy Rosario of National University.
“It’s more of organizational than the usual practice as what I’ve told you before, but everybody wanted to become part of Gilas and that is really a good sign. They are all cooperative,” said Gilas Pilipinas mentor Tab Baldwin.