ONLY minor kinks are being sorted out and naturalized player Andray Blatche will finally be on board again with Gilas Pilipinas.
Team manager Butch Antonio said talks with the camp of Blatche are now on the final stages and he’s confident it’s only a matter of time before the 29-year-old naturalized player agrees to come over and spearhead the national squad’s bid in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila four months from now.
“We’re close to sealing the deal. Sana within the week tapos na natin,” Antonio disclosed at the end of Gilas Pilipinas’ Monday practice at the Moro Lorenzo gym inside the Ateneo campus.
“We’re very much in touch with his group. Hopefully, it’s done.”
As per projection of coach Tab Baldwin, Antonio said the former NBA player should be here in the country by May 15.
“I guess that’s the time when most everybody are finally on board, with the PBA ending on the 20th assuming it goes the full route,” added the Gilas team manager.
Blatche’s season with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers is now over after the team bowed out in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) playoffs after being swept in three games by the Sichuan Blue Whales during the semifinals.
Based on his talks with Blatche and his handlers, Antonio said the 6-foot-11 New York native is thrilled to play in the July 5-10 qualifier, with a possible shot at playing in the Rio De Janeiro Olympics in August.
“He’s excited na sa OQT and he wants to help us,” said Antonio. “Ang sa akin that’s more important than anything else. The willingness is there and that somehow, his heart remains with Gilas, which is a very big, big factor.”
Antonio however, refused to divulge the figures involved in the impending deal with Blatche, now in his third tour of duty with Gilas after the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain and last year’s Fiba Asia Men’s Championship in Changsha, China.
“It’s good. It’s fair to all,” was all the Gilas team manager would say about the new deal being worked out for the former Washington and Brooklyn stalwart.