ANDRAY Blatche is letting the game just come to him, but still vowed to put on an improved showing as Gilas Pilipinas seeks to cap the first window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers on Monday night when it hosts Chinese-Taipei at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The naturalized Filipino slotman started sluggishly against Japan before stepping up when it mattered most to help his team come away with a 77-71 win last Thursday in Tokyo
Asked if he needs to be more aggressive or remain a facilitator, Blatche, who registered 13 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks, against six turnovers, will read the Taiwanese defense first.
“It all depends,” the former NBA player said in an interview he granted to scribes after practice on the eve of the matchup that tips off at 7:30 p.m. “If I get the ball and I see they’re doubling me, that’s when I have to pass the ball to the open man and hope they hit the shot, or if I see them struggling, if I have to take over, I’ll try to be aggressive and get to the rim, and I will.
“The number one thing on my mind is to win,” he was quick to add. “It’s not to go out there and try to get a whole bunch of points. It’s about winning and playing the game the right way.”
Blatche credited Jayson Castro for bringing Gilas home against Japan, but knows he’ll have to carry more of the load at some point.
“It’s good to have Jayson step up and lead us,” Blatche said. “We did a good job on defense. It’s just that we missed a lot of open shots and we really got to work on that if we want to go farther.”
“Hopefully we’ll all be coming in focused and hit some shots and I’ll be playing at a much higher level than I did in Japan,” he added.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes admitted Blatche’s performance left something to be desired, but is confident his prized ward will come through when they need him the most.
“Talagang may stretch na ang sama talaga ng laro niya, but ganun naman si Andray,” Reyes said. “But in the end, in the clutch, when he needed him to come up, he scored.”
“You take the good with the bad, and the important thing is at winning time he’s there for the team so we’re not too worried about it,” he added.