Andray Blatche isn’t too worried even if the Australia Boomers have beefed up their already-towering frontline by adding the 7-foot-1 Thon Maker for the third window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Maker, a Milwaukee Bucks center, was named to the Boomers squad last May 31 and made his debut last Friday versus Japan. Though they lost, 78-79, the 21-year-old played solidly as he provided 13 points and 12 rebounds.
“It’s basketball. No matter if he’s eight feet, you’re still gonna play basketball,” said Blatche of Maker, who is one more concern for Gilas given that the Aussies have two more 6-foot-10 guys in Daniel Kickert and Angus Brandt.
“You gotta go out there and give it your all. It’s all about, you know, as they say, puso. It’s all in your heart,” added the 31-year-old naturalized center, who is averaging 11.6 points and 12.2 rebounds in the qualifiers.
“It doesn’t matter who they have on the court. You gotta play your game.”
Blatche’s focus is not on any player, but on the match itself.
Gilas and the Boomers will be heading into Monday’s clash with the leadership of Group B at stake – both squads carry identical 4-1 win-loss cards following the results of their respective assignments this past Friday night.
The Aussies’ loss to the Akatsuki Five was not just a monumental upset; it ended their unbeaten run of four games in the Qualifiers as well. The Filipinos, meanwhile, are coming off a 93-71 dismantling of Chinese Taipei in Taiwan.
As much as the Boomers are hungry to get back on track, Gilas is also aching to win. For them, this is the most opportune time to exact revenge on Australia, who gave them a harsh 64-86 beating back in the second window.
So for Blatche, he expects nothing but a dogfight to take place inside the massive Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Monday.
“The one going to win this game will finish first place in the division. There’s a lot of things and factors on this game on Monday, so it’s gonna be a dogfight,” the 31-year-old former NBA pro claimed. “I don’t expect it to be easy for them, I don’t expect it to be easy for us.
“So everybody’s gonna come out on Monday and give it their all.”