MANILA – Andray Blatche is glad to get his job back as the naturalized center of the Gilas Pilipinas ahead of the final window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifier against Qatar on Feb. 21 and Kazakhstan on Feb. 24.
The former NBA center said while he was still frustrated from his unceremonious cut in the previous window, he now wants to focus on helping the national squad move on to the World Cup in China later this year.
“It was tough for me, very tough for me,” Blatche said. “I’ve been part of this team from the wins and from the losses to not have the opportunity to go again in the last pool, it was frustrating.”
He added: “But I still rooted for the guys and wished them for the best. When we ended up losing the two, I realized what kind of predicament we were in. I was upset because I felt like I could have contributed to the team.”
The 32-year-old Blatche also said he wants the national men’s basketball team’s chances in their two away games and he has already adapted himself to the system being run by Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao.
“I’m very confident against Qatar and Kazakhstan,” said Blatche. “The thing about the system that I like the most is playing off instinct. It puts you in positions where you have to make a choice.”
“It’s not like the plays are super complicated where I’ll be on the court and I’ll be like, ‘What do I do next?’ It’s not like that,” he added. “The plays are very simple, and playing off instinct, and playing off chemistry with your teammates.”
Gilas is currently at fourth place in Group F with a 5-5 record and still have a good chance of qualifying for the FIBA World Cup in September but cannot afford to lose their last two games against Qatar and Kazakhstan./PN