GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin admitted Andray Blatche needs to shed a few pounds to stay toe-to-toe with his teammates as training for the FIBA-Asia Men’s Championship officially began Monday night.
Blatche practiced with the national team for the first time at the Meralco gym after arriving in the country the night before and looked overweight.
“He’s moving okay, but he’s gotta lose some weight,” Baldwin said of the naturalized Filipino. “He’s big right now.”
“But we’ll get him to the medical testing and we’ll make sure we don’t put him before he’s really ready to go.”
For now, it’s understandable that Blatche took a breather after every after turn during the drill as he looked easily gassed.
“I told him a couple of times that you go at your pace,” Baldwin said. “By next week, we expect him to be going at our pace, but it’s going to take him a while to shake off the jetlag and a long offseason he’s had.”
Still, the national coach welcomed the arrival of the 6-foot-11 NBA veteran, who hasn’t seen competitive action in five months or since the last game of the Chinese Basketball Association season last February.
“I’m happy he’s here,” Baldwin said. “When I see a guy walk through the door and he has to duck, I’m really happy. We finally have one like that.”
Asi Taulava had been the tallest player in practice at 6’9” before Blatche arrived.