FIBA WORLD CUP: Blatche delivers in role as Gilasí game changer
Paul Lintag on Feb 22, 2019 06:03 PM
Blatche posted 17 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two bloks for Gilas in the crucial decision over Qatar, announcing his return with a bang. (FIBA)
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao said that Andray Blatche was the national team’s game changer a couple of weeks back after the naturalized center made his official return to practice following his FIBA suspension.
And after Thursday’s [Friday in Manila] win against Qatar in Doha for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Guiao was sure proven right.
Playing his first game for the Philippines since July 2018, Blatche proved to be an effective all-around weapon, leading the national team to an impressive victory.
Blatche posted 17 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two blocks for Gilas in the crucial decision, announcing his return with a bang.
Truly a game changer for the Philippines.
“As I said, he’s the game changer. He helped as out offensively and defensively, he controlled the situations in the game,” Guiao said of Blatche.
“His game just speaks for itself,” he added.
True enough, Blatche’s best all-around game of the Asian Qualifiers coincided with Gilas having its best shooting game as a team.
The Philippines shot 15/30 from beyond the arc and the national team had more makes from 3s than 2s.
“He draws a lot of the attention and it creates a lot of the openings that’s why we shot a lot of three-point shots and we got the good looks, the openings, something we didn’t have when he wasn’t playing,” Guiao added.
For Blatche, he seems to be just happy to get out there on the court once again with his Gilas teammates.
But despite the big win in his return, the naturalized center maintains his focus and says there’s still things to take care of.
“It felt great, it felt great to be out there with my brothers and compete, get the win,” he said.
“But we’re not done yet,” Blatche added.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8