Andray Blatche loved the composure Gilas Pilipinas showed in its 92-83 conquest of the visiting Adelaide 36ers in the first of two friendlies, Friday evening at the Meralco Gym in Pasig.
The Filipino dribblers squandered an eight-point lead as the opposition took an 81-80 lead with 5:14 left to play. Fortunately, they then responded with a 12-2 assault to finish the game.
Swingman Roger Pogoy presided over that run as he scored eight of his 10 points during that stretch.
“I love it,” lauded Blatche, who flirted with a triple-double with 19 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists in the win.
“I feel like we competed, we stayed in the game. No matter how tough times got, we didn’t lose our composure. And we came away with the win and that’s the most important thing,” he added.
Still, based on the first tune-up, Blatche sees more work to be done – especially on defense. The naturalized center opined that he and his fellow bigs should close out more quickly.
There were moments in the game when their reaction on defense was slow. They allowed their foes to either take wide-open shots or attack the rim hard with the gaps they inadvertently made.
‘Our defense was solid. We can do a lot better. I feel like me – myself included – and all the other bigs got to work on our closing out and not get beat off the dribble so easy,” he said.
Gilas and Adelaide will face-off for the second and last time on Sunday, August 25, still at the Meralco Gym. For Blatche, he expects a sharper Adelaide in that game.
“Sunday’s game will be a lot tougher because they know our sets, they know how we wanna play. But we also know what to expect so we’re all gonna come in and focus,” he said.
“Sunday’s really gonna be a battle test.”