CHOT Reyes has sounded the alarm about Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship a week before the tournament kicks off at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The national coach admitted the team will not be in peak form going to the May 12-18 showcase, more so now that naturalized player Andray Blatche is coming over with barely a week of practice with the 11 other players named to the Gilas team.
“Even with Andray, we're not confident,” said Reyes. “He’s gonna be here but we really don’t know what kind of shape he’s going to be in.
“And even if he’s in good shape, what kind of assimilation can happen in what? He arrives on Friday and he starts practicing on the 6th (Saturday), and that’s what? Five days before the opening? That’s just going to be really unacceptable."
The sudden turn of events has made Reyes recognize that he’ll be going to a tournament that has long been dominated by the country, without the benefit of a team which is 100 percent in shape.
“Not ready at all. We’re at best 50 percent where we wanna be. We basically accepted that we're not gonna be 100 percent come Seaba because as you know, ang daming mga pangayayri.
“So we just want to be as prepared as we can and figure out a way to get the job done even if we’re not going to be at peak level.”
But Reyes reserved his final words for the 30-year-old Blatche, who has deferred his arrival a couple of times, citing a number of reasons, the latest of which is the christening of his new-born baby.
“We just kind of have to live with it because it is what it is. We put him (Blatche) in the final roster on the understanding that he was supposed to be here at the start of practice, that’s why I can’t hide my displeasure. I’m very upset,” said the five-time recipient of the PBA Press Corps Baby Dalupan Coach of the Year award.
Asked if the 6-foot-11 NBA veteran has finally guaranteed his arrival by Friday at the latest, Reyes said he won't know until the naturalized player is here.
“His guarantee doesn’t mean a thing to me,” he stressed with conviction. “Ang dami na niyang guarantee na binigay na hindi naman niya tinutupad.”