With only 12 days before the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, the main concern for pundits is still the condition of Gilas Pilipinas big Andray Blatche heading into the most important tournament of the Philippine national team in 2015.
When Blatche started training for Gilas III, he gained a significant amount of weight and was far from competitive shape, although he quickly brushed off the issue, saying he can make it in about a month.
Blatche further missed some time to attend family matters, but it does not worry Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin who has trust in his main center.
“Andray did not hit his outside shots but it is normal. He’s got to shoot himself into shape that’s why we left him out there for the minutes that we did. That’s normal, don’t be surprised and make a big story out of it,” Baldwin said, citing Blatche’s vast experience as a professional basketball player.
Blatche finished with 12 points in Gilas’ 93-77 win over the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, although shot 4-for-14 overall including a mere 1-for-8 from downtown.
While Baldwin admits there is some disappointment, he genuinely feels it is not something Blatche cannot solve.
“Some good, some not so good. He will shoot the ball better than he did tonight. His transition is not really there yet, he is not running the lanes for us,” Baldwin said.
The mentor also praised Blatche’s defense, an aspect of the game Gilas did not have in the Jones Cup. With Blatche back, he is helping Gilas protect the interior and make it difficult for opposing teams.
“One thing you don’t see a lot from Andray is his defensive intelligence. He anchors the middle of our defense and he gives us that big presence. We were tougher around the rim and for the big games, that is important for us,” Baldwin shared.
Baldwin concluded by saying he feels the Blatche fans know will be coming.
“Andray’s offense has to find its rhythm. He’s got to get himself into the running game. You saw the pace of the game, we were running high tempo tonight. The wings were running. We have that speed in the perimeter but we need Andray to fill in those slots, those gaps, and it’s coming. That’s all I can say.”