Naturalized player Andray Blatche of Gilas Pilipinas vowed to learn from his mistakes during the previous International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup and use it to his team’s advantage in this year’s edition of the tourney scheduled August 31 to September 15 in China.
“I’ve been there (World Cup) before, me and a couple of guys were there before, we know what it takes, quite sure myself and Gabe (Norwood), all the others who have been there learned from my mistakes last time in how to close the fourth quarter or the last couple of minutes,” Blatche told reporters on Saturday at the Meralco gym in Ortigas a day before they left for Spain.
He encouraged the young members of Gilas Pilipinas to step up now that veteran Jayson Castro has retired from the national team.
“Definitely I have Jayson, but it is time for the younger guys to step up and fill his void or spot. Me and Gabe we know, like I said, about how each possession counts in how to close the game in the fourth quarter,” Blatche added.
Blatche, Norwood, Jayson Castro and the now retired Jimmy Alapag were the players of Gilas Pilipinas that saw action against the Croatians, Argentinians and the Puerto Ricans in the elimination round of the 2014 World Cup in Spain.
Under its then coach Chot Reyes, Gilas Pilipinas failed to advance to the next round after losing to Croatia in overtime 78-81, to Greece 70-82, to Argentina 81-85, and to Puerto Rico 73-77. Gilas won against Senegal 81-79 in overtime in the group stage.
Gilas Pilipinas, determined to to surpass its one-win finish in the last World Cup, will play several tune-up games in Guadalajara, Spain before returning to the Philippines on August 13.
“Going to Spain is a great preparation for us so we can come together and jell as one. This is a great group of guys we got here. When I get back from Spain, I’ll be 100 percent ready,” said Blatche.
Gilas Pilipinas will play in Group D with Italy, Serbia and Angola.
Joining Blatche in Spain are Kiefer Ravena, Mark Barroca, Robert Bolick, CJ Perez, Paul Lee, JP Erram, Matthew Wright, Beau Belga, Japeth Aguilar, and Norwood.
June Mar Fajardo, Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy and Christian Standhardinger opted to skip the Spain games because of their commitment to the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup Finals.