Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas deputy director for international affairs Butch Antonio expects naturalized player Andray Blatche to be in tip-top shape by the time he arrives in Manila this May 15 after training under renowned American trainer Christopher Thomas in the U.S.
Thomas, founder and owner of 100% Hoops, also trained former UAAP MVP Ray Parks last year just before the Fil-Am guard played for the Dallas Mavericks in the 2015 NBA Summer League and later, the Texas Legends in the NBA D-League.
Antonio said that before signing Blatche to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila set this July, he has made it clear to Blatche’s business agent Chao Espaldon of East West Private that the SBP expects the former Brooklyn Net big man to be in sharp form.
“Well, they got CT (Thomas’ initials) to train him (Blatche). Nag-usap kami ni Chao just to make sure he knows everything, and of all the things, yun lang because all other things lead to that (his being in game shape),” the SBP executive told FOX Sports on Monday.
Antonio mentioned the seriousness of the matter, considering that Gilas Pilipinas is shooting for no less than an Olympic berth when the Filipinos collide with France and New Zealand in the initial phase of the qualifying tournament in Manila.
While the 6-foot-10 Blatche helped Gilas to a silver medal finish in last year’s FIBA Asia men’s championships in Changsa, eyebrows were raised when the 29-year-old NBA veteran came in overweight in training camp.
Blatche was in a race for time by then to reach game shape, ending up with averages of 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in Changsa. – By Richard Dy
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