Sigh of relief for Gilas as Andray Blatche finally arrives in time for Japan game in World Cup qualifier
Andray Blatche is finally here after being welcomed in the airport by Gilas team manager Butch Antonio. Photo from Butch Antonio's Instagram account

AFTER a couple of delays, Andray Blatche finally arrived in the country to reinforce Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup qualifier that kicks off Friday in Tokyo, Japan.

Blatche arrived early morning on Sunday from China and was welcomed at the airport by Gilas team manager Butch Antonio.

A selfie photo of Blatche with Antonio along with two American companions was later posted on the Instagram account of the national team manager.

"Welcome home Andray," was the caption written on the photo with the hashtags #labanpilipinas #puso.

The 31-year-old naturalized player is expected to immediately join the team’s practice as time is running out for Gilas, which leaves for the Japanese capital on Tuesday in time for its opening game against Japan at the Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Ground Gymnasium for the first round of the qualifier in Asia.

Blatche's initial departure schedule was Nov. 12, but changed his plans when his mother ballclub in the Chinese Basketball Association, the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, asked him to play two more games before departing for Manila.

His camp then said the former NBA player will be arriving on Saturday, but no Blatche showed up when the Chooks To Go-backed national team held a sendoff at the Bar One of the Crown Plaza Hotel on the same day.

During the event, Gilas officials assured the 6-foot-11 Blatche will be here by Sunday.

That prompted coach Chot Reyes to say, “I’m just as curious as everyone if he’s going to arrive tonight.”

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