SEVILLE, SPAIN - Unknown to most fans, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes had seriously considered sitting out Andray Blatche for the match against Greece on Sunday in the Fiba World Cup group stage.
Blatche hurt his right knee while going for a drive during Gilas' emotional 78-81 overtime loss to Croatia in its opening game in this two-week event featuring 24 of the best teams in the world.
The injury was later diagnosed as tendinitis on the knee - not serious enough to risk the future of the current NBA free agent, but painful enough for Reyes to consider sitting Blatche out for Sunday's match.
"We wanted to preserve guys for (the match against) Argentina tomorrow," Reyes said.
In the end, Reyes said he decided against the idea because the team in conscience couldn't bear to disappoint the hundreds of Filipino fans from far and wide who came to this city to watch the match.
"To be honest, we were thinking of playing a 2-3 zone the whole game and putting up a token resistance (against Greece)," the Gilas coach admitted after the 70-82 loss to the Hellas. "In the end, I couldn't think of that I could live with my conscience if I did that."
The plan, Reyes said, also didn't appeal to the players - least of all Blatche himself.
"They wanted it (the win), including Andray. That's the kind of spirit that we have and the way we play," Reyes said. "That's who we are. From the start, we were foolish enough to think that we can stay with this team.
"Our style doesn't allow us to slacken off."
Although Reyes didn't confirm it, insiders said Gilas coaches decided to play Blatche but were ready to pull him out the moment the Hellas ripped the game wide open.
That, however, didn't happen.
The former Brooklyn Net ended up playing 33 minutes against Greece, leading the team with 21 points and 14 rebounds although he made just six of 18 shots while playing on one good foot.
Now Blatche is listed as day-to-day going to Gilas' final three matches in the group phase, beginning with Argentina on Monday then Puerto Rico and Senegal after a rest day on Tuesday.
But regardless of how the injury situation pans out, Reyes assured Gilas will fight to the very end.
"That might be a foolish thing," said Reyes. "From the start, we were foolish enough to dream that we can compete. Might as well be foolish all the way."