NBA great with heart of winner
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - June 9, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche, the newest member of Gilas Pilipinas, feels right at home with his Pinoy brothers, with whom he shares a winning attitude and intense passion for basketball.

“They remind me of myself. I live and breathe basketball, I can’t imagine myself without basketball,” Blatche said when he graced Sports5 Center yesterday, his first public appearance since being granted naturalization by Phl Congress.

“What I’ve heard so far is that people here love basketball. There’s a story that stuck to me, about you guys having flood and you still have kids playing basketball in waist-high water, for the love of the game. That means a lot and I wanna be part of a culture like that,” he said.

Blatche arrived from New York yesterday morning. He had lunch with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V Pangilinan, Sen. Sonny Angara, Rep. Robbie Puno and PLDT officials, Gilas coach Chot Reyes and some Gilas players led by Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo. He went on live TV in the afternoon to discuss his entry to Gilas with Reyes and host Erika Padilla.

Asked about what he can bring to the team, Blatche said: “First off, I’m a winner. I come from winner organizations. I strive all my life to being a winner and I’m a hard worker. I met some of the players at lunch and I can tell they’re winners, they’re fighters, they love basketball and that’s something I stand behind and that’s something I wanna have myself be a part of.”

He was thankful to SBP officials and legislators who worked for his naturalization. Blatche will officially become a naturalized Filipino once President Aquino’s signs the law passed by Congress.

“I feel like I owe them to give it my all and to win, to represent the Philippines well. I have nothing but thanks and (I feel it’s my obligation) to give (something) back,” Blatche said.

Reyes said Gilas is excited to welcome Blatche in training beginning July.

“There’s a lot of tall guys but a tall player with the skills of Andray is special and that’s why he’s in the NBA. He has a very good post game with the ability to go outside, hit the three-pointer and put the ball on the floor and he’s a good passer,” said Reyes.

And yes, Blatche said he’s ready for Gilas’ “joke times” every practice.

“I think I have the personality to match (my teammates’ jovial character),” he said.

ANDRAY BLATCHE BLATCHE BROOKLYN NETS CHOT REYES ERIKA PADILLA GILAS PILIPINAS JAYSON CASTRO AND RANIDEL JIMMY ALAPAG MANNY V PANGILINAN REYES
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