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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Andray Blatche to practice with NLEX to further grasp Yeng Guiao’s system


Andray Blatche arrived in the Philippines just last Friday. He flies back to China on February 11.

The naturalized Filipino big man will therefore only have 10 days to familiarize himself with Gilas Pilipinas’ new system under coach Yeng Guiao. This, alongside the added difficulty of not being able to train with the national team on a daily basis since the PBA is still ongoing.

Needing to work things around, Guiao is making sure to make most of Blatche’s stay in the Philippines. The head coach is making Blatche train with his club team as well, the NLEX Road Warriors.

“He’s picked up on the plays really quick. One reason is because he practiced this morning with NLEX, we ran the same plays. Last Saturday, he practiced with Rain or Shine and we ran the same plays,” said Guiao, who also invited Blatche to join NLEX’s practice on Wednesday.

“So he’s putting enough time and repetitions to be able to memorize the plays.”

During his first practice with this batch of Gilas Monday evening, Blatche seemed at ease with the team as he switched bucket after bucket. Moreover, there were times that he even brought down the ball off the rebound – a vital role played by bigs during Guiao’s stint with Rain or Shine a few years back.

“His offense is more of going off instinct, you know. Just gotta be in the right spots at times and then after that, you just play basketball.

“You know this is I think my third… my third day here where I’m going over offense every day. So it’s coming to me easy,” shared Blatche, who is averaging 11 points and 11 rebounds in the Qualifiers.

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Having Blatche in the fold, and having faced Qatar and Kazakhstan during the fourth and fifth windows respectively, Guiao believes that the 6-foot-11 ex-NBA pro will be a force to be reckoned with come the final window.

“Nakita naman natin he’s going to demand the double team definitely. I don’t think there’s anybody in the Kazakhstan team or the Qatar team that can stop him one on one.

“We saw what his abilities are. He’s an inside, outside guy. He’s a very versatile player who can shoot and who can pass. So he’s going to be the game-changer,” Guiao opined.

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