Ever since Andray Blatche came into the Philippines back in 2014 to be naturalized and reinforce Gilas Pilipinas, a vast majority of his campaigns with the squad have resulted to heartbreaks and missed opportunities.
There was the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, where Gilas was kicked out right in the opening round with a 1-4 card. And there was the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, where he was all set to suit up only to be hounded by eligibility woes.
Blatche, to cut the story short, has never won any major championship with the Philippines. His only achievement so far is a silver medal finish back in the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup in China, where the Philippines lost to the host nation.
But Thursday night in Manila, Blatche’s history with Gilas has been rewritten.
The versatile 30-year-old finally won a major crown with the Nationals, as Gilas clinched the 2017 SEABA Championship for Men title at the expense of regional rivals Indonesia, 97-64, at the historic SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
And in the victory that helped the Philippines collect their eighth gold medal overall in the regional cagefest, it was Blatche who showed the way.
The former NBA veteran anchored Gilas with 21 points on 58.3 percent shooting, and imposed his presence on the boards as he hauled down 10 caroms, a performance that is expected from him every game.
As the Syracuse, New York-born forward finally ended his personal title drought with the Philippines, he could not be more blessed, as he made it alongside his teammates who made the achievement easier to attain.
“It’s always a blessing to go with them into events,” said Blatche moments after the match.
And indeed, Blatche has finally won one in the Philippines, for the Philippines.