ANDRAY Blatche didn't look like he missed a step as he had his first national team practice in seven months on Monday night at Meralco Gym.
Though already running a completely new system under the guidance of coach Yeng Guiao, the 32-year-old naturalized center looked at ease running the plays with his fellow Gilas Pilipinas players as they continued their buildup for the sixth window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers later this month.
"It was great," he testified. "It was great just being on the floor with all my brothers again and fighting, start competing for the two games coming up."
Part of that is Blatche's familiarity with the core guys of the team as he seamlessly blended in with guys like Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, June Mar Fajardo, and Roger Pogoy a number of times on the floor.
"It was like clockwork because, you know, I know what these guys on this court are capable of doing and I know which guys are shooters, which guys are the slashers," he said, while also crediting coach Yeng Guiao's read-and-react system for his easy transition.
"(Coach Yeng's) offense, like I said, is based off just knowing your teammate and knowing what they’re gonna do next and instinct. You just gotta be in the right spots at times and then after that, you just play basketball. And that actually works out in my favor. This is my third day here where I’m going over the offense every day and it’s coming to me easy."
Despite the problems Gilas is facing in its preparations, Blatche remains upbeat as he exudes confidence in looking forward to these pair of away games in Qatar and Kazakhstan.
"For sure, everybody in this country knows the importance of these next two games. I know all my teammates know how bad we need this next win. So it’s a do-or-die for us and I know we’re gonna give our all and leave everything on the court and come home with the two wins," he said.