CHANGSHA, China – Despite nursing an injury, Andray Blatche is ready to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in its Fiba Asia Championship showdown with defending champion Iran on Monday.
As per an advisory by the team hours before the 11:45 a.m. game, the 6-foot-11 Blatche will be in a Gilas uniform ready to play Hamed Haddadi and Iran for the first time since coming on board as a naturalized player for the national team last year.
“Andray playing today,” said Gilas team manager Butch Antonio in a text message.
Blatche's status suddenly became uncertain on the eve of the Iran match after the former NBA player sprained his right ankle while driving to the basket in the second quarter of Gilas’ 73-66 win over Japan on Sunday night.
Although Blatche was limping as the injured ankle swelled shortly after the game, a team official who refused to be identified, assured the Gilas’ top gun will be fine.
“He’s much better and ready to play,” said the team official, noting there is pain but no swelling on Blatche's ankle hours after the game.
The question now is on whether he can be close to full fitness ahead of his first match-up against the 7-2 Haddadi, who has been a thorn in the side of the Philippines since Iran rose to become an Asian basketball power.