Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Andray Blatche is expected to arrive sometime this May to rejoin the national side, which is preparing for the Manila leg of this year’s FIBA Oympic Qualifying Tournament.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas deputy director for international affairs Butch Antonio explained that national coach Tab Baldwin wants to make sure that Blatche will be in tip-top shape before plunging to action in the OQT scheduled from July 4-10 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Hopefully, Andray arrives by mid-May, though yung timeline kailangan pa namin pag-usapan. Pero alam naman natin na yung ganun eh naka-structure na sa utak ni coach Tab,” Antonio told FOX Sports on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-10 Blatche is currently averaging solid numbers of 23.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 2.2 steals for the Xinjiang Guanghui, which currently is at 3rd spot in the team standings in the 2016 Chinese Basketball Association.
Antonio said Blatche’s arrival will just be right since the PBA Commissioner’s Cup is expected to end by May 20.
The SBP executive added that Gilas will be in deep training by the last week of May and might even consider playing abroad for several games as part of its buildup for the qualifying tournament.
The 29-year-old Blatche averaged 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in last year’s Fiba-Asia men’s championships in Changsa where Gilas placed 2nd behind host China. — By Richard Dy