NATIONAL head coach Yeng Guiao hailed Andray Blatche for being a “game changer” for Team Pilipinas in its victory over Qatar on Thursday in the Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Blatche had a big impact on offense and defense on Thursday contributing 17 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks in the Philippines’ 84-46 victory over Qatar.
Blatche wasted no time in making an impact for Gilas Pilipinas after not making it to the final 12 of the national squad in the past four games.
“Andray created a lot of opportunities for us on offense and defense,” said Guiao during the postgame press conference. “He changed the whole team. The guys just felt good playing with him. Our offense really went well in the second half.”
“I told the guys at halftime once that nervous tension is gone, we should be able to play our natural flow of the game. And that’s what happened,” Guiao added.
Guiao said the presence of Blatche gave a lot of opportunities for other Team Pilipinas players against Qatar.
“He is a game changer. He helped us out on offense and defense. He controlled the situations in the game. He gets a lot of attention to the defense that created the openings. That’s why we had the good looks, something that we didn’t have (in previous games). I guess this game just speaks for itself,” said Guiao.
In his first game back, Blatche said his main focus in the game was to make an impact on defense.
“Our defensive intensity was our focus. Our defensive rebounding helped up out to get open shots. Each guy gave their all on defense. We all knew our offense is going to flow. Our most concern is brining energy to our defense which we did,” said Blatche.
Blatche said it felt great playing once again with Team Pilipinas, but reiterated work is just getting started with still a game to play against Kazakhstan on Sunday.
“They are my brothers. We still have to take care of business. We are not yet done. We have one more game. I’ll be happy to get the invite to the World Cup,” said Blatche.