ANDRAY Blatche is still nowhere to be found as Gilas Pilipinas begins its buildup for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which Manila will host from July 5-10.
Gilas is set to reconvene on Wednesday to begin its preparations for the Manila qualifiers, where the hosts face the daunting task of beating the likes of France, Canada and New Zealand for a place in the basketball competitions of the Rio Olympics.
Blatche was scheduled to arrive last May 15 but has yet to plane in, prompting questions on when he would rejoin Gilas for the final and most important phase of what had been an eight-month buildup for the Manila tournament.
When pressed for an answer, a top official of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) bared that the 6-10 former NBA player had asked for a leave 'of a week or two' to be able to attend to his ailing mom.
Blatche's mom is stricken with cancer and is set to undergo surgery, the top official added.
However, the SBP official said Blatche has assured that he will fly in as soon as possible. He has also scheduled a video call with top officials led by Manny V. Pangilinan to make a similar assurance, the official added.
It will be recalled that Blatche arrived for the buildup to the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship out of shape and was later granted a few days' leave in the middle of Gilas' campaign in the Jones Cup last year to be able to attend the funeral of an uncle.
But the official assured that Blatche is currently in fine shape.
Consequently, Gilas will gather for an early afternoon practice at the Meralco Gym on Wednesday without Blatche and Gilas members from Rain or Shine and Alaska, which will be play in Game Six of the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals later in the day.