Naturalized Filipino center Andray Blatche believes the Philippine men’s basketball team will emerge victorious in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament scheduled on July 5 to 10.
Blatche said Gilas Pilipinas will reach its full potential on time before facing powerhouse teams such as New Zealand, France, Canada, Turkey and Senegal in the Olympic qualifier.
“If I won’t believe [in Gilas Pilipinas national team qualifying in the Olympics], I won’t be coming back for a second chance,” the power forward Blatche told The Manila Times during an interview before leaving Manila over the weekend for a three-week training camp in Europe.
“I believe in this team. Once we get into training camp, everything will be fine and nothing is impossible at all. We’re going to win and qualify in the Rio Olympics,” added the former National Basketball Association (NBA), who played for the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets.
Gilas Pilipinas national team flew to Greece on June 10 for a nine-day training camp before flying to Istanbul, Turkey for a tune-up game the Turkish national team on June 21.
The team will go to Bologna, Italy on June 23 for another tune-up games with Italian national team, China or Canada.
On June 27, the nationals fly back home.
“We did a little workout and we competed but we’re a little bit away of what we’ve really wanted to be,” said Blatche, who scored 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting in the field along with 11 rebounds and four steals last Wednesday in a tune-up game against Iran at the Araneta Coliseum.
Gilas Pilipinas national head coach Tab Baldwin also praised Blatche’s latest playing condition, saying that he is better compared last year.
JOSEF T. RAMOS