Gilas Pilipinas resumes its training on Wednesday without naturalized player Andray Blatche, who has to attend to his sick mother in the U.S.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas deputy director for international affairs Butch Antonio said Blatche relayed the news to them over the weekend.
“His (Blatche) arrival is being moved to next week, mga after the 24th (of May),” Antonio told FOX Sports on Tuesday.
Antonio declined to comment on the condition of the 6-foot-10 Blatche’s mother, but assured Filipino basketball fans that the former Brooklyn Nets slotman will join Gilas practice mid-next week.
The national basketball governing body is hopeful that Blatche will report to practice next week in shape, since Gilas only has over a month to prepare for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament Manila leg.
The FIBA OQT is set to fire off on July 5, with Gilas facing world no. 5 France on opening day, followed by Oceania basketball powerhouse New Zealand the next day.
All games will be played at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed (as far as Blatche’s condition), but we’ve been assured he’s in shape,” he said.
The SBP team official added that minus the players from Alaska and Rain or Shine, which will be facing off on Wednesday evening for Game 5 of the Oppo-PBA Commissioner’s Cup, coach Tab Baldwin expects everyone in the pool to show in the 1-4 p.m. practice at the Meralco gym.
Players currently competing in the PBA Finals include Paul Lee, Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood from Rain or Shine, along with Calvin Abueva from Alaska.
Expected to report for duty on Wednesday are Barangay Ginebra’s Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio, San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter, Tropang TNT’s Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Ryan Reyes and veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo, GlobalPort guard Terrence Romeo and Star defensive ace Marc Pingris.
Former college standouts included in the national pool include Kevin Ferrer, Kiefer Ravena, Roger Pogoy, Russell Escoto, Mac Belo and Bobby Ray Parks. – By Richard Dy
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