CHANGSHA, China – The Gilas’ frontline reserves are ready and looking forward to battling Hamed Haddadi and Iran.
Veterans Sonny Thoss and Asi Taulava both expressed their readiness to hold the fort for the Philippines in the wake of the injury suffered by go-to guy Andray Blatche on the eve of the game against the defending champions in the Fiba-Asia Championship.
Thoss and Taulava both played quality minutes against Japan and vowed to fill the void in the middle should Blatche continue to play hurt in the rematch of the 2013 Fiba Asia finals in Manila.
“We’re gonna come out ready. We work as hard. We gotta play for each other, be there for each other,” the 6-foot-7 Thoss said.
With Blatche playing sparingly in the second and third quarters after suffering a sprained foot, Thoss and Taulava provided quality minutes down low and held their own against the Japanese pair of Joji Takeuchi and Gaku Arao.
Thoss was even included in the group that gave Gilas the leverage after Blatche went down for the second time in the game during the early part of the third period.
But despite hurting, the 29-year-old Blatche played through the injury and was a key factor in the endgame when he combined with Ranidel De Ocampo, Calvin Abueva, and Jason Castro to put the pesky Japanese away.
His effort earned him Taulava’s respect all the more.
“He did a great job tonight. He toughened it up. I’ve got a lot of respect for him seeing him fight through the injury,” said Taulava.
“We needed this win and he knew it. He sucked it up. He went out there, showed his ‘puso’ and got us the win.”
Despite them being ready and on cue, both Thoss and Taulava believe Blatche will insist himself to play for the Iran game.
“Knowing his character, he’ll fight through it and he’s gonna be alright,” said the resident Alaska big man.
“Andray is the type of guy who doesn’t take a day off,” added Taulava. You wanna see him get back in there. He’s gonna be there playing tomorrow. That game is very big for us.”