GILAS Pilipinas is bracing for the worst.
National coach Chot Reyes admitted the team is ready to go to war against Japan in the opener of the FIBA World Cup qualifier on Friday with an all-Filipino lineup given the uncertainty surrounding naturalized player Andray Blatche.
"Of course. in fact we're preparing to play all-Filipino," Reyes said on Saturday during the sendoff for the Chooks To Go-backed national team at the Bar One of Crown Plaza Hotel.
"We'll never know kung ano ang mangyayari sa sitwasyon na ito."
Blatche was scheduled to finally arrive on Saturday night, giving him just three days to practice with the team before it departs for Tokyo on Tuesday.
Reyes, however, is no longer keeping his hopes up until he sees the 6-foot-11 Blatche in the flesh. The naturalized player was expected to fly in last Nov. 12 yet, but kept delaying his arrival.
On Friday, Reyes said Blatche was finally set to plane in after being held up by his team in the Chinese Basketball Association. But there still was no Blatche in Saturday's press conference.
"Until he's here that's the only time we can be certain about it," he added.
If ever Blatche arrive according to his latest pronouncement, Reyes said that only gives him just five sessions to practice with the team, even though he's been Gilas' resident naturalized player for the past three years.
"If we decide to put Andray in the lineup, that essentially gives him five practice sessions with the team before the (Japan) match," said the five-time PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year.