AFTER a week of waiting, Andray Blatche was finally on board for Gilas Pilipinas, joining his first official practice with the national team on Sunday.
The 6-foot-10 naturalized player arrived in the country in the wee hours of Sunday from Atlanta, had a brief rest, before finally plunging into action at the Meralco gym with his Gilas teammates five days before the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship.
Blatche had to endure a 20-hour flight to come over, including a two-hour layover in Los Angeles.
Naturally, he felt tired and sleepy shortly after practice.
"I'm extremely sleepy, but it was good to be back on the court," said Blatche afterwards. "I'm struggling with my eyes now. I'm tired.
The next few days will be even more back-breaking for the new father.
Coach Chot Reyes announced the team will be conducting twice-a-day practice on Monday as Gilas tries to make up for lost time in its buildup for the Fiba Asia qualifier set to kick off this Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The host plays Myanmar in its opening-day game.
Blatche also appreciated the patience of Filipino fans after he repeatedly delayed his arrival here following the birth of his first-born baby.
And as guarantee, he vows to steer Gilas to victory.
"Thanks for waiting. We’ve got a couple of days to go before the tournament starts, so its going to be very exciting," he said. "And we’ll come out with a win nothing less."