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    Gilas given assurance Andray Blatche 'in shape' when he arrives next week

    May 19, 2016
    Andray Blatche is set to arrive on May 27 at the latest. Dante Peralta

    ANDRAY Blatche is in tip-top condition.

    This was the assurance made by officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) who have been keeping a close watch on the weight and condition of Blatche since he arrived overweight and out of shape before Gilas' campaign in the 2015 Fiba Asia Championships.

    SBP international affairs head Butch Antonio, who is the concurrent team manager of Gilas, bared that long before Blatche signed a contract renewal last month, they have been strictly monitoring the former Washington Wizards slotman.

    In fact, Antonio added that they have also been furnished video tapes of Blatche in training and workouts.

    “He’s in shape, kasi his handlers know that signing is one, but his condition is another. It’s his state of condition that is always a question mark,” said Antonio, who revealed that Blatche currently weighs around 260 pounds.

    “Remember we had two versions of Andray: The Andray of Spain (2014 World Cup) and the Andray of Changsha (China). They know naman that Andray was a in lot better shape in Spain, so I think that’s what they’re working on,” he added. “I am in touch with his handlers almost every week, since January nagsusulatan na kami and they will always send us videos of Blatche in training.”

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    Blatche is also said to be pursued by some NBA teams including the Atlanta Hawks, which is great news for the SBP.

    “At least we know he has extra motivation, he’s still an NBA-caliber player and I won’t be surprised if he’ll return. But then again, I only heard about it (NBA call ups), but I haven’t discussed that with him,” he said.

    “He is motivated to get in shape. If he is invited for whatever, he has to show (his worth). It’s good for us that people want to be part of something because it gives them the drive to be in shape,” Antonio added.

    Blatche, though, has been granted permission to miss the first stage of Gilas practices to attend to his cancer-stricken mother, who officials said is set to undergo surgery.

    “He is arriving next week, latest will be on the 27th. But if we can get him earlier, the better,” he said.

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    Asked if Blatche’s existing contract with a team in the Chinese Basketball League could be a hindrance to his Gilas stint, Antonio shook his head.

    “Yes he has a contract pa with China, pero it happens after Fiba (Olympic Qualifiers) pa. So I don’t think it will have conflict with anything,” he said.

    Watch video of interview with Butch Antonio:

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    Andray Blatche is set to arrive on May 27 at the latest. Dante Peralta
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