Tab Baldwin won't believe Andray Blatche in top shape until he sees it for himself
Tab Baldwin says he won't believe Andray Blatche has stayed fit until he sees it with his own eyes. Jerome Ascano

WHEN it comes to the fitness of Andray Blatche, consider Thomas Anthony 'Tab' Baldwin a doubting Thomas.

Second-hand information is hardly enough evidence to convince the Gilas Pilipinas coach that Blatche is indeed proving true to this word that he will come in better shape than he did last time.

Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson has posted photos on his Instagram account of Blatche being slimmer than he was when he represented the country as its naturalized center in last year’s Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, China.

But Baldwin will only believe anything concerning Blatche's fitness once he sees it for himself.

“I haven’t seen him. I’ve seen him on video, but I don’t believe anything I see in video — anywhere,” the national coach said after practice on Sunday. “I don’t even believe me on video repeating what I said. I’m a doubting Thomas.”

“When they walk on the floor and I can see what they can do, then I know what they can do,” he added. “And until I see that, it’s just noise in the background.”

Blatche is reportedly set to arrive on Friday after attending to his ailing mother in the US that delayed his arrival.

[See Blatche granted permission to delay arrival to attend to ailing mom]

As Gilas picks up preparations for the Olympic qualifier in Manila, Baldwin said Blatche's fitness was assured in his camp;s negotiations for a new contract with the national team.

“I’m hoping and expecting that (he comes in better shape), because that’s what we’ve been assured, that’s what was carefully discussed in the negotiations, and it was emphasized,” Baldwin said.

“But do I know that to be the case? Not until I see it in front of my eyes,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos