IT took quite some time before Andray Blatche joined Gilas Pilipinas in preparation for the 2017 SEABA Championships as he waited for his wife to give birth to his son, Andray Jr, late last April.
But the wait for Filipino fans could be well worth it as new dad Blatche said he’s joining Gilas as a more driven, motivated and inspired man.
"It just changes your whole outlook in life. You have someone that you're playing for, you have someone that's just in my heart and in my mind all the time," Blatche said.
"Yes (this is a different version of me) just with my thought process and to what I feel," he added.
Blatche will show just how inspired he is when the Philippines finally play their first game on Friday against Myanmar, and not even the perceived lack of competition from pundits will stop him from playing his heart out.
"The number one thing is winning. As long as we come out and do our jobs which is to win, that's enough for me," said the NBA veteran.
"When everybody expects you to win, you start to come out and perform, start to come out and win and compete. We can’t think we have it easy ‘cause lots of teams are thinking that they have a shot of knocking us down. We have to stay focused," he added.
The Gilas naturalized player will not be lacking in motivation, and he expects the Pinoy fans to pack the Araneta Coliseum and give the team an added boost from the stands - something that he got accustomed to, especially after last year's Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
"I expect nothing less from the fans today. Ever since I was with Gilas, whether we're playing in France or Spain, Turkey wherever, we always had special support."