It will still be Andray Blatche
Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio made it clear that naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche will be back for the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February.
Blatche has yet to attend Gilas practices due to his commitment with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, but Antonio said that they have already reached out to the said league for his temporary release.
“We have already made communication. We sent a letter already,” said the executive after Gilas’ practice Monday. “Kasi that’s the protocol now eh… You have to write a letter to the team through the CBA and you will just have to wait for their reply.”
It is still uncertain if and when the Flying Tigers will lend the naturalized center to Gilas, who will face Australia and Japan on February 22 and 25, respectively. But Antonio is confident that the ball club will let the former NBA cager go.
“More often than not naman they’ll release him. It’s just a matter of when.
“In our letter we identified pretty much when we start our daily practice, when we hopefully want to have him in, when we plan to leave for Australia and when he comes back and when he gets back to his mother team in China,” said Antonio.
It also helps knowing that the CBA will be on a break during the second window of the Asian Qualifiers next month, as all the teams will be preparing for the league’s playoffs that time.
Antonio also allayed fears that Blatche is hurt while in China. Speculations rose early this January, as Blatche has only played in five games for Xinjiang so far.
“No, we were in touch with his agent, parang okay naman siya,” said the long-time Gilas official. “I think he has healed. The last time he played he was coming from that hamstring injury but I have not followed it because we’re busy.
“But I think he’s been playing in the CBA pretty well. And his team has been winning. So that’s good for us.”
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