It's FIBA-Asia Cup or nothing for Andray Blatche
Paul Lintag on Jul 13, 2017 11:16 AM
The last time Andray Blatche wore the Gilas Pilipinas uniform, he lead the team to a rousing victory over Indonesia to capture the 2017 SEABA Championship.
Noticeably absent in Gilas Pilipinas' current preparations is naturaluized center Andray Blatche.
After helping the country win the SEABA Championship back in May, Andray's name has only been mentioned during the announcement of the Gilas pool for the 2017 FIBA-Asia Cup in Lebanon.
That has been the case because the only tournament where Blatche can join Gilas is the continental championship in Lebanon set for August 8-20.
And the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is already in a negotiation with the former Brooklyn Net.
"We’re in talks with Blatche. I just cannot be sure until – I think you’ve heard me say this many many times – until he’s signed, until his signature is on the dotted line, I cannot confirm any participation," Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio said on Wednesday during the team's send-off to the William Jones Cup.
"But Andray’s group is in touch with us and very much ganado. He’s anxious. He was saying, basta just give me a call and I’ll be ready," Antonio added.
For the Jones Cup, the Philippines will be reinforced by 6'8" forward Mike Myers, TNT KaTropa's standby import for the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.
As for the Gilas team that will compete in the Southeast Asian Games, which will actually overlap with the FIBA-Asia Cup, the Philippines is going All-Filipino although FIBA counts Fil-German Christian Standhardinger as a naturalized player.
As it stands it's FIBA-Asia Cup or nothing for Andray Blatche.
"As much as we would like to put everything, to condense it, the reality is we have two tournaments that overlap. Kahit one game it’s still an overlap," Antonio said.
"You also have to take the welfare of the players into consideration here. Hindi mo naman mabugbog, hindi mo masunog. And also I think you know that we’ve already submitted Southeast Asian Games lineup a couple of weeks ago I think. If ever, Andray is for the FIBA Asia Cup," he added.
The FIBA-Asia Cup has nothing on the World Cup when it comes to the new qualification process. All teams seeing action in Lebanon are part of the home-and-away games that will decide the seven teams that will represent Asia and Oceania in the 2019 World Championships.
The 2017 version of the FIBA-Asia tournament is only to decide a new Asian champion. Gilas Pilipinas finished in second during 2013 and 2015, losing to Iran and China respectively in the Finals.
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