NATURALIZED slotman Andray Blatche has indicated his desire to play for Gilas Pilipinas when the national squad under new coach Tab Baldwin vies for an Olympic berth in the 2015 Fiba-Asia men’s championships in Changsha, Hunan, China this September.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) deputy director for international affairs Butch Antonio bared the 6-foot-11 NBA veteran has kept the communication lines open with Baldwin, assuring the national coach that he’d like to reinforce the national team once again.
“Andray has already signified his intention, nagsabi na siya na gusto niya maglaro sa Gilas because he has been in touch with coach Tab,” Antonio told Spin.ph on Friday.
But Antonio said for the time being, the main priority is for Baldwin to name the Gilas national pool before the SBP takes care of Blatche who saw action for the national team in the Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain last year.
The 28-year-old naturalized player signed an initial contract with Gilas that ended during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea which Blatche missed because of eligibility issues.
Blatche, who averaged 21.2 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals for Gilas in the World Cup, will have to sign another contract with Gilas if he is to be available for Baldwin in the Olympic qualifier in China.
Baldwin has told Spin.ph early this week that he intends to name members of his pool sometime in the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. But the Gilas pool will only start practicing at the end of the PBA season in the middle of July.
“Once may fixed dates na and everything is in place, then we will take care of the logistics, though for the meantime, what’s important is Andray’s already expressed his interest to play for Gilas,” Antonio said.
The 28-year-old Blatche is coming off an impressive stint with the Xinjian Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he averaged 31.1 points, 14.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.8 steals in 38 games.
The Tigers, though failed to qualify in the playoffs after finishing ninth at the end of the eliminations.
The Washington Wizards’ 49th pick overall in the 2005 NBA draft hit 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in Xinjiang’s last game of the CBA season, leading his team to a 129-103 win over Foshan.