ANDRAY Blatche will be suiting up for Team Pilipinas in the final Fiba Basketball World Cup qualifying window in February, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio confirmed on Friday.
“Yes he will. We are finalizing matter with him,” said Panlilio in a message.
Blatche, through Theia Sports, issued a statement on Thursday morning confirming his return to the Philippine national squad, just weeks after he was left out of the squad in the fifth window of the qualifiers.
“It’s confirmed! I’ll be back to play for the PHILIPPINES in February! Can’t wait to win these two games for the best fans in the world!” said Blatche, through the social media account of Theia Sports.
Blatche was left out of the team that lost to Kazakhstan and Iran after national coach Yeng Guiao decided to stick with an all-local lineup with Fil-foreigners Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle alternating in the naturalized player role.
The twin losses left the Philippines' qualification hopes for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China hanging - and led to a clamor for Blatche's return.
Blatche, who has been the Philippines' naturalized player since the 2014 Fiba World Cup, served a three-game suspension for his role in a July brawl against Australia but would've been eligible for a callup for the Iran game.
Gilas is facing a make-or-break situation in the next window slated February 21 and 24 where they face Qatar and Kazakhstan respectively on the road. Team Pilipinas is currently at fourth place in Group F with a 5-5 card, one game behind third-placer Japan (6-4).
The top three teams in Groups E and F along with the best fourth placer will advanced to the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup in China.