Andray Blatche returns to beef up full-strength Gilas team for World Cup qualifiers
Andray Blatche is set to arrive on Nov. 12 to reunite with Gilas.

THE PBA may be in disarray, but Gilas Pilipinas, at least, appears to be insulated from the controversy.

National coach Chot Reyes has put together a full-strength Gilas side to be bannered by returning naturalized player Andray Blatche for matches against Japan on Nov. 24 and Chinese Taipei on Nov. 27 at the start of the qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.

Reyes announced his lineup as usual on his Twitter page shortly after Gilas got together for its first practice for the qualifiers at the Meralco Gym amid a simmering feud in the PBA board over the tenure of Commissioner Chito Narvasa.

Divided as the teams are over Narvasa, they nonetheless stood united behind Gilas as players from both sides of the leadership squabble showed up on Friday night led by San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo, who sat out most of the team' campaign in the Fiba Asia Cup owing to injury.

Aside from Fajardo, 12 other members of the pool showed up on Friday night namely Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario of TNT, Allein Maliksi and Mac Belo of Blackwater, Calvin Abueva and Carl Bryan Cruz of Alaska, Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine, Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra, Matthew Wright of Phoenix, and Jio Jalalon of Star.

Two other Gilas mainstays - Kiefer Ravena and Terrence Romeo - didn't attend practice because they were both out of town but are part of the pool along with Baser Amer, Kevin Alas, LA Revilla, Russel Escoto, Kevin Ferrer, Von Pessumal, and Mike Tolomia to complete the 23-man pool.

Jalalon, however, is out with a lateral collateral ligament injury, Reyes said. But his absence is not expected to be a problem since Gilas has a surplus of potential back-up point guards to Castro in the pool in Ravena, Amer, Revilla and Tolomia.

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With Fajardo healthy and Maliksi back in the pool after his trade from Star to Blackwater, the lineup constitutes the most formidable put together by Gilas since the Seaba Championship in Manila which it easily won last year.

Blatche, who last played for Gilas in that Seaba romp, is set to arrive on Nov. 12. He sat out the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon, giving way to Christian Standhardinger.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph