Despite being away from Gilas Pilipinas for half a year, the former NBA player makes up for lost time and familiarizes himself with the team
Published 5:10 PM, February 12, 2019
Updated 5:10 PM, February 12, 2019
HEAVY EXPECTATIONS. Andray Blatche will try to lead the team to triumph in must-win away matches in the sixth and final window of the World Cup qualifiers. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Limited time was a concern for Andray Blatche as he rejoined Gilas Pilipinas, but head coach Yeng Guiao believes the former NBA player has accustomed himself with the team ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.
Being away from the national team for half a year, Blatche immediately made up for lost time by practicing with the Filipinos regularly since February 4 and attending training sessions with Guiao’s PBA team NLEX.
In that short period of time, the fiery mentor saw how quickly the 6-foot-10 big man familiarized himself with his read-and-react system.
“Palagay ko na nakuha na niya. Kahit noong pina-practice namin siya with NLEX team, he has a very good understanding of the system,” Guiao told reporters on Monday, February 11.
(I think he already gets what we want to do. Even when he was practicing with NLEX, he has a very good understanding of the system.)
It also helps that Blatche actually likes the system, Guiao added.
After missing the fourth window due to a FIBA suspension, Blatche had a chance to suit up for Nationals in the fifth window but was not included in Guiao’s pool of players.
Blatche said he was hurt by the snub, but all of that is water under the bridge now as he and Gilas have turned their focus to winning must-win away matches against Qatar and Kazakhstan in the sixth and final window.
“Siya mismo naman sinasabi niya na gusto niya ‘yung sistema, he can get used to it very easily,” Guiao said.
(He said that he likes the system and he can get used to it very easily.)
“Importante din na magustuhan niya. Mas mahirap turuan ‘yung isang tao sa isang bagay na hindi niya gusto. At least ito gusto niya, he’s making an extra effort to learn,” the coach added.
(It’s important that he likes it. It’s hard to teach someone a thing he doesn’t like. At least he likes it and he’s making an extra effort to learn.)
Blatche is currently in China to honor his commitments with Chinese Basketball Association team Tianjin Gold Lions and will reunite with the Philippine national team in Qatar on Saturday, February 16.
There, the Filipinos have less than a week to gear up for their clash against the Qataris on February 21. – Rappler.com