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    Chot Reyes confident Gilas can 'go all the way' in Asian Games with Andray Blatche in lineup

    Sep 7, 2014

    MADRID - LA Tenorio quietly finished up a late dinner while keeping an eye on the giant screen inside a Friday's diner, which was showing live a game pitting Senegal against host Spain in the knockout phase of the 2014 Fiba World Cup on Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time).

    The Ginebra star wasn't saying it, but deep inside there's a tinge of regret that it should be him and the rest of the Gilas Pilipinas guards - and not the Senegale - battling the likes of Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio in a game he can now only watch on television.

    "Oo nga, eh," he told in between bites. "Ang gandang experience 'nung nakaharapan mo si JJ Barea (of Puerto Rico). Gusto ko ngang magpa-picture kung di ko lang s'ya kalaban. Ganon rin ang mga ito."

    Tenorio, however, made it clear he has moved past that as he and Gilas shift their focus to Iran, South Korea, and China which they will battle for the gold medal in the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea in a fortnight.

    The 5-7 former Ateneo star said the Asian Games will be an altogether different challenge for Gilas players, especially since Iran has had their number since last year's Fiba-Asia championships in Manila.

    [See Fiba backs Gilas stand on Andray Blatche eligibility row in Asiad]

    Gilas coach Chot Reyes, however, is confident the Philippines can 'go all the way' in the Incheon Games with Andray Blatche, whose elibility has come under question when organizers moved to disqualify him by citing a contentious three-year residency rule.

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    "I think we can go all the way (in the Asian Games)," Reyes said, "if we can get a few breaks, (and) as long as we're healthy with Andray."

    Blatche, who led the team in scoring and rebounds in the Fiba World Cup, has returned home to Atlanta on Friday but is expected to rejoin Gilas in Manila on September 12, unless a decision by Asiad organizers is handed down that will mean his presence will no longer be required in Incheon.

    Reyes said he fears an unfavorable decision against Blatche will lay to waste all the momentum Gilas has made in Sevilla, where the Philippines beat Senegal, 81-79, and lost games to world No. 3 Argentina, world No. 5 Greece, world No. 16 Croatia and Puerto Rico by an average margin of six points.

    "Sayang lahat ng development natin dito," said the Gilas coach. "We're playing at a higher level than last year at the Fiba-Asia (championships)."

    Asked how Gilas will do in the event longtime naturalized player Marcus Douthit is tapped to take Blatche's place, Reyes said such a change will require an altogether different game plan.

    "It has to be a different approach," the Gilas coach said.

    [See Doubts fire up Marcus Douthit as Asian Games chance opens up]

    The good news is, Tenorio said Douthit is healthy and in good form, having joined the team's practices and scrimmages battling Blatche mano a mano during Gilas' entire time overseas.

    Tenorio also said he likes Gilas' chances in the Asiad even with Douthit, who he said already knows the team's system like the back of his hand and therefore won't have any problems re-integrating himself into the scheme of things.

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    The Gilas guard also believes Douthit won't get in the way of June Mar Fajardo, saying the in-form San Miguel Beer slotman can easily slide down to the '4' position, given the skills and agility he showed in the Fiba World Cup.

    "Maganda naman ang takbo ng team with Marcus," he said. "At wala ng adjustment na kailangan."

    [See Chot says match-ups, not form, dictated Fajardo's playing time in Fiba World Cup]

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