MANILA – Naturalized center Andray Blatche is not yet sure to return to the Gilas Pilipinas in their two remaining matches in the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifier in February.
Gilas head coach Joseller “Yeng” Guiao said the former Washington Wizards and Brooklyn Nets center is just one of the naturalized players being considered for their two-away matches against Kazakhstan and Qatar.
“[Blatche’s return] is not yet final but he is one of those [naturalized players] being considered,” said Guiao, who has earlier said that he also consider PBA import Justin Brownlee if he processes his naturalization papers in time.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio seconded Guiao saying that they are still in negotiations with the camp of the former NBA player.
“That is the plan. Finalizing,” Gregorio said in an interview with ESPN 5. “As far as the SBP is concerned, we are in touch with the agent of Andray to finalize plans to bring him in early.”
Blatche, through Theia Sports’ Facebook page, said on Thursday that he will once again suit up for the national men’s basketball team in its bid to qualify for the World Cup in China.
“It’s confirmed! I’ll be back to play for the Philippines in February! Can’t wait to win these two games for the best fans in the world!” Blatche wrote.
Guiao opted not to tap Blatche and instead relied on Christian Standhardinger even though he was eligible to play for the Iran game after serving out his suspension for his involvement in the Philippines-Australia brawl at the Philippine Arena last July.
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./PN