FIBA: Late Blatche revival key positive for Gilas as it wraps up World Cup vs. Iran
Paul Lintag on Sep 07, 2019 06:05 AM
Blatche has picked things up after struggling to score in the Philippines’ first two games. In the loss to Angola, Andray was good for 23 points. Friday against Tunisia, the naturalized center finished with 24 markers. (FIBA)
For all the horrors experienced by Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, it’s actually the same thing the 2014 team endured in Spain five years ago.
Well, technically it’s the same.
The 2014 Gilas team that inspired a whole nation likewise started the World Championships with four straight crushing defeats before scoring a breakthrough victory by game no. 5.
The 2019 Gilas team that has been subject of harsh criticisms has started the World Championships with four straight crushing defeats as well.
Naturally, expectations and the manner of how the games have been lost are different but still, Gilas Pilipinas can turn around and score that breakthrough victory by game no. 5 to at least leave China on a positive note.
The key to that will be Andray Blatche.
Blatche has picked things up after struggling to score in the Philippines’ first two games. In the loss to Angola, Andray was good for 23 points. Friday against Tunisia, the naturalized center finished with 24 markers.
“Andray has been struggling offensively [but] it’s a good sign, even if we’re playing just one more game, that he’s able get his rhythm,” head coach Yeng Guiao said.
“In the fourth quarter [vs. Tunisia], he made some outside shots, drove hard to the basket and had a few dunks. So that’s a good sign I guess, for our last game against Iran,” he added.
Gilas Pilipinas is no longer in the running for an automatic Olympic slot but the national team does still want an invite to the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments as a possible wildcard.
In wrapping up the World Cup against an old rival in Iran, Gilas can take a step into the positive side of things after being consumed by what has been a horror trip to China.
“Iran is an Asian team, we have some rivalry with them,” Guiao said. “We just want to go to the Iran game with something postive.”
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