On Monday, Gilas Pilipinas had to momentarily go back to life without Andray Blatche.
The naturalized Filipino had to go back to China and will rejoin the national team Saturday as Gilas Pilipinas head to Qatar for the first of two games that will ultimately decide the country’s fate in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
With too little borrowed time with Blatche, Gilas remains optimistic that they’ve done enough to have Andray effective against Qatar and Kazakhstan in less than two weeks time.
“Palagay ko nakuha na niya,” head coach Yeng Guiao said on Blatche’s grasp of his system.
“Kahit noong pina-practice namin siya sa NLEX team, he has a very good understanding of the system,” he added.
Blatche feeling comfortable and actually liking Guiao’s new system in Gilas certainly helps.
Preparation is already hard with the national team coming together on such short notice. Making drastic changes — or not having key guys adapt — certainly would have made things even more difficult.
“Siya mismo naman sinasabi niya na gusto niya yung sistema, he can get used to it very easily,” Guiao said.
“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,” he added.
With an extra couple of days without Blatche present, GIlas will still have Blatche involved one way or another.
“Ang gagawin namin, magvi-video kami ng mga practice namin, papadala namin sa kaniya,” Guiao said.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8