GILAS Pilipinas hopes to finally practice as a full 12-man roster with the expected arrival of naturalized player Andray Blatche five days before the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship kicks off.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche is scheduled to arrive in the country early Sunday morning and should be ready to join his first practice with the team late in the afternoon at the Meralco gym.
“We expect him to be at practice tomorrow,” said Gilas team manager Butch Antonio after the national team ended practice Saturday.
Antonio wouldn’t want to delve further on the reason why Blatche deferred his arrival anew and would rather prefer to look on the positives brought by the presence of the 30-year-old player here.
“What’s important is his coming, and for sure he will be instrumental in helping us in this Seaba campaign. Doon na lang natin dalhin,” said Antonio.
Coach Chot Reyes has been most concern about not having a complete practice yet with his players for the qualifier of the FIBA Asia Cup. He voiced out his apprehension anew even with Blatche already certain to arrive here.
“We still haven’t able to practice fully as a complete 12-man team,” said the national coach. “So basta for us, we’re just focusing among ourselves, making sure that we’re going to ready as possible, and we’ll see what happens
To maximize the remaining days Gilas have prior to the opening of the Seaba on Friday, Reyes said the team will have twice a day practice starting on Monday, a time frame that should also give Blatche a chance to familiarize himself again with Reyes’ system and at the same time, get to personally know the players.
“Plan is on Monday, and then take Tuesday off because yun na yung last break dahil tuluy-tuloy na until May 18 na. That’s the schedule,” added the Gilas coach.