Sports Skinning Left, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
Sportshub ( Leaderboard Top ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Gilas in full force as Blatche reports for duty

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas workouts go full blast in the next few days as naturalized player Andray Blatche finally arrived Saturday night, looking in perfect shape six days before Team Phl clashes with Japan in the opener of the FIBA Asia World Cup home-and-away qualifying series at the Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo.

Blatche buckled down to work yesterday, joining the Gilas pool in two practice sessions – a morning workout at the Meralco Gym and an evening practice at the Smart Araneta Coliseum – with their preparation focused for their face-off with Japan Friday and then their home game versus Chinese Taipei Monday back at the Big Dome.

Gilas hopes to build momentum for an expected uphill battle versus Australia in February.

Blatche’s arrival is a big morale boost to the rest of the squad.

In three major events – 2014 World Cup, 2015 FIBA Asia and 2016 OQT – he has played with Gilas, the 6-foot-11 New York native averaged 19.8 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.1 assists.

The nine-year NBA veteran normed 17.8 markers and 9.2 boards in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha where they walloped the Japanese twice – first in the elims, then in the semifinals.

Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Unlike in 2015 when he showed up in training for the Asian meet a bit overweight, Blatche looked in top shape this time, impressing no less than Gilas coach Chot Reyes.

“He looks good,” said Reyes of Blatche, obviously in competitive form with the Chinese league where he’s a part of now in its regular season.

“He had 26 (points) and 13 (rebounds) the last game, and another 24 and 12 in the previous game playing 30-32 minutes. So he’s in pretty good shape based on those numbers,” Reyes pointed out.

Blatche, however, has a lot of catching up to do in training.

“We had to go very slow. We basically had to go to almost square one because we did some things he’s just picking up now,” said Reyes.

Still missing in training among the 16-man pool was point guard Terrence Romeo.

A surprise guest in their morning practice was all-time Alaska Milk great import Sean Chambers, who was invited by the Gilas coach to pep up the nationals.

“What you’re doing here is much bigger than you can imagine. Even in the US, we follow everything Gilas. So make us proud,” Chambers was quoted as saying by the Gilas coach.

Chambers is back in the country to serve as consultant to the Alaska Milk Aces.

Sportshub ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
  • Follow Us:
Sports Skinning Right, pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1