ANDRAY Blatche sent his apology for not playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the coming FIBA Asia Cup, but still made no mention as to why he’s skipping the August 8 to 20 showpiece slated in Beirut, Lebanon.
The national team naturalized player wished his Gilas teammates all the luck in their campaign in the tournament formerly known as the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship a few hours after coach Chot Reyes formally announced Blatche had been left out of the official Gilas lineup for the meet.
But it remains unclear as to the real reason why the former NBA stalwart now playing for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, has skipped a return stint in the showcase where he led Gilas to a runner-up finish during its last edition two years ago in Changsha, China.
Blatche, 30, made the statement on his Instagram account @draylive.
“I will always be very thankful for the opportunity, the love, and the support I have received from my Filipino family, but it’s a lot of reason why I can’t join and I don’t expect for many ppl to understand,” remarked Blatche just above a photo showing him carrying a huge Philippine flag behind him.
“But I do wish my brothers the best of luck.”
In the absence of a formal statement from both Gilas and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), so many speculations are surfacing as to the real reason why the versatile 6-foot-11 player chose not to suit up for the national team this time, although SPIN.ph citing reliable sources, earlier reported about Blatche being wary about the safety concern of going and playing in Lebanon.
This marks the second time Blatche, who previously played for Washington and Brooklyn in the NBA, will be skipping a major tournament for Gilas after also failing to see action for the team during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
He last played for the national team in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship held in Manila last summer, and his stint in the home-and-away qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup which begins this November remains up in the air.
In Blatche’s absence, Fil-German Christian Standhardinger will be Gilas’ naturalized player in Lebanon. He will be joined in the team by veterans Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan and cadet players Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, and Carl Bryan Cruz.