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Tiebreaker Times

2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Andray Blatche glad to be back home: ‘It’s always been about family’


Andray Blatche didn’t hide the fact that he was upset when he wasn’t named in Gilas Pilipinas’ pool for the fifth window for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, as head coach Yeng Guiao decided to “experiment” with an all-local crew.

“It was tough for me. It was very tough for me. Definitely. I’ve been part of this team from the wins to the losses.

“And to not have the opportunity to go again in the last pool, it was frustrating,” bared the 6-foot-11 slotman.

Blatche even felt worse when he watched his brothers-in-arms flunk in the fifth window, as they lost both games to Kazakhstan and Iran. For the 32-year-old, he felt like he could’ve made a difference had he been there.

“I still rooted for the guys and wished them for the best. And when we ended up losing the two, I realized what kind of predicament we were in. I was upset because I felt like I could have contributed to the team,” he said.

But now, Blatche has returned.

Blatche has been called up again to serve for flag and country for the very crucial sixth window of the Qualifiers set in late February. He arrived on Friday night all the way from China, where he’s currently playing for the Tianjin Gold Lions.

“It’s always good to be back home.”

Blatche was at the Meralco Gym in Pasig Saturday morning and did a shootaround. But most of his Gilas teammates weren’t there, as they are currently honoring their commitments with their mother teams in the PBA.

#ReadMore  Asi Taulava helps out eight-man Gilas

Thankfully, though, his fellow flagbearers Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan, and the rest of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, were there with him in the facility to assist in orienting him with Guiao’s system.

He may have yet to fully grasp the system, but Blatche likes it already.

“The thing about the system that I like the most is playing off instinct. It puts you in positions where you have to make a choice. So it’s not like the plays are super complicated where I’ll be on the court and I’ll be like, ‘What do I do next?’

“It’s not like that. The plays are very simple, and playing off instinct, and playing off chemistry with your teammates,” said Blatche.

Blatche is set to meet all of his teammates this Monday, when Gilas resumes its preparations. But he won’t be waiting until Monday to meet some of them, as he’s about to visit their PBA games over this weekend.

“I’m really excited. I’m about to go cover the games tonight and tomorrow, see the guys play on their teams. You know, coming back here is always been about family,” he said. “I love each and every one of these guys on and off the court.

“Can’t wait to see all of them.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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