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    Blatche lifting morale, building teammates' confidence, says Guiao

    Feb 4, 2019
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascano

    GILAS Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao expressed his satisfaction with how naturalized center Andray Blatche has familiarized himself with the plays in so short a time.

    "He's picked up on the plays really quick," he shared after the Syracuse-born big man got in his first official practice with the national team on Monday night at Meralco Gym.

    Blatche wasted no time working himself to form, training with Rain or Shine and NLEX over the weekend to get accustomed to Guiao's read-and-react system before the national team core joined in.

    "So he's putting enough time and repetitions to be able to memorize the plays. I think he's just doing fine with the absorption of the system and the patterns, and getting to know the rest of the guys," said the fiery mentor.

    Guiao also allayed fears on the possible issues with chemistry, noting that of the pool, only four players have not had the chance to team up with Blatche.

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    "I don't think there's gonna be a problem with their chemistry, but the more time we spend with each other, the better for us," said Guiao, adding he doesn't see Scottie Thompson, Mark Barroca, JP Erram, and Marcio Lassite having difficulty blending with the 32-year-old naturalized player.

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      Unfortunately, Gilas won't have the chance to see Blatche run the plays with the team before the sixth window as the national team had its scheduled tuneup game against San Miguel Alab Pilipinas on Tuesday cancelled.

      "That's a big worry for me because Alab cancelled the practice game. Yun lang sana," he lamented as he still hopes to get a chance to have a practice game before leaving for Qatar on Feb. 16.

      "I don't know if we can still do something about it, but we will try to do something to see if the SBP or PBA can do something about it. Sana makapag-practice kami as a team against another team bago kami umalis."

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      Still, Guiao assured that the coaching staff is doing everything in its power to prepare Blatche before he flies back to China on Feb. 11.

      "We're just trying to get as much time and as much familiarization with the plays with him while he's here," he said. "Nakita naman natin na he's going to demand the double team definitely. I don't think there's anybody in the Kazakhstan team or the Qatar team that can stop him one on one.

      "We saw what his abilities are: he's an inside-outside guy. He's a very versatile player who can shoot and who can pass. So he's going to be the game changer. He's going to be able to bring in a lot of confidence and he's really lifting the morale of the team just because of his abilities."

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      PHOTO: Jerome Ascano
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