ANDRAY Blatche arrived on schedule and in much better shape this time for Gilas Pilipinas practice three weeks ahead of its campaign in the third window of the FIBA World Cup qualifier.
Unlike in the past when the naturalized player kept the team waiting, Blatche rejoined the national team in practice as scheduled on Monday night at the Meralco gym after arriving two days earlier.
He came from a two-week vacation in the U.S. but keep himself in shape prior to coming over and prepare for the battles ahead against Chinese Taipei and unbeaten Australia.
"I just thought it would be perfect to get in here and be with the guys," said Blatche after a light workout with Gilas' training pool that lasted less than two hours.
"I just keep on working and prepare in trying to stop Australia," he added, obviously looking forward to the team's rematch with the Boomers on July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Australia dealt Gilas its first loss in the qualifiers behind an 84-68 beating in their first meeting last February in Melbourne to take the solo lead in Group B.
It won't be easy, though.
Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova are set to reinforce the mighty Boomers when they travel to the Philippines and take on the Filipinos. Both players are teammates with the Milwaukee Bucks.
Blatche, a former NBA player himself, knows the tough task that awaits Gilas against the Boomers.
"Australia is an amazing team, a great team," he said. "They're tall, they're aggesive, and they’re fast. We've got to use our quickness to our adavnatge.
"And I have to stuff up a lot on the offensive end as well as the defensive end."
And then, there's Chinese Taipei.
While the Filipinos got the better of their match-up against the Taiwanese in Taipei during their first meeting last November, 90-83, Blatche admitted about his desire to get even against Chinese Taipei counterpart Quincy Davis.
The 35-year-old Davis outplayed Blatche in their personal match-up after scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds before fouling out in the final two minutes of play.
In contrast, Blatche finished with only six points, but had 14 rebounds and five block shots.
"I got some personal match up with (Quincy) Davis, he got the best of me the last time," he admitted. "I’m looking forward of matching up with him."