FIBA WORLD CUP: What's the Gilas plan for Andray Blatche?
Paul Lintag on Mar 07, 2019 06:51 PM
With Blatche's PBA stint in doubt, coupled with the fact that Gilas might not actually play in the Jones Cup, the national team has to get creative when it comes to its preparation for the World Championships. (FIBA)
Unless something major actually happens, Andray Blatche will serve as Gilas Pilipinas' naturalized center in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China later this year.
However, that's still almost half a year away and Blatche's schedule is a natural cause for concern for the national team.
After Blatche's season in China ends, there were initial talks to have him serve as an import in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
But that seems highly unlikely now.
"Another development is mukhang malabong makapaglaro as import si Andray Blatche. I’ve already indicated previously that in order to keep him close and in order to be able to have some control over his conditioning, his game shape, it would have been good if he’s been able to stay in the Philippines before the World Cup and play for the PBA," Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said.
"But it seems there are some technical issues regarding that. Number one, we’re not sure if he’s going to make the height. Number two, we’re not sure which team he’s going to. So given those uncertainties, again, the chances of him playing as an import would be very slim," he added.
With Blatche's PBA stint in doubt, coupled with the fact that Gilas might not actually play in the Jones Cup, the national team has to get creative when it comes to its preparation for the World Championships.
Naturally, coach Yeng is looking at possibilities that would benefit all parties concerned.
"We have to look and find a way to get him here early, get him in shape and have him ready for the World Cup," Guiao said of Blatche.
"Ako naman, I always open myself up to a win-win solution. I don’t want naman na ang PBA ay mag-sacrifice to the point where we’re almost losing a conference or we’re almost losing the purpose for which the other 12 teams were organized, which is to provide year-round entertainment, basketball entertainment for the public. So kailangan mabalanse natin. There should be a balance where we can serve the purpose of preparing for the World Cup, and at the same time, not disrupt PBA schedule too much. They’ve already sacrificed na as it is," he added of their preparations.
With bigger prizes at stake in the World Cup, including an automatic Olympic berth, Guiao obviously wants to get his Gilas team as ready as possible.
That means no more two week prep this time. As early as possible, Guiao wants the national team to come together in top shape, including Blatche of course.
"Isang issue pa rin is yung how do we keep Blatche in good physical shape? My worry is after his China commitments, Andray Blatche is going back to the States, and for how long, we do not know. And the problem is if he’s not competing, then there’s always a chance of him getting out of shape. Yun lang medyo worry ko doon," Guiao said.
"The other option is get him in earlier because we really don’t want what we’ve been doing the past three windows, yung sa akin, yung tatlong windows, was really just preparing two to three weeks at a time. So napakaikli nung three weeks na yun. We would want to be able to prepare at least two months. Instead of two to three weeks, maybe we can stretch it to two to three months. And part of that preparation is getting Andray Blatche in early and competing close to the level of the World Cup," he added.
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