Naturalized player Andray Blatche looked much fitter than he was when Gilas Pilipinas settled for silver anew in the FIBA Asia Men’s Tournament last year.
Blatche arrived on Friday night with little fanfare as the spotlight belonged to Los Angeles Lakers rising star Jordan Clarkson, who flew in to grace the unveiling of Nike’s new Gilas Pilipinas kits for the FIBA Olympic Qualiying Tournament.
Blatche joined the national pool in light shooting drills and was reduced to a spectator majority of the way as he rested his tired legs from a long trip.
“I don’t know (yet). It’s my first day here and I haven’t practice yet. So I’m gonna get re-acquainted with the guys and see the plays and strategies,” Blatche said before Gilas started its closed-door practice session with Clarkson.
Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin was pleased to see Blatche in much better shape.
“It seems that he’s ready to go. He’s tired, obviously, after a long trip. I don’t know but he’s enthusiastic. We’re not gonna let him go (to practice) today. I want him to get over the trip and get his legs back,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin added that he leaves it up to Blatche if he joins the practice the following day as he penciled Monday as the first full practice for the naturalized player. The American-Kiwi coach suspend his judgment on Blatche’s fitness until he goes full speed in practice.
“He looks better and he seems more with a little bit of lightness in my eyes so we’ll see until he’s out there and start running around,” Baldwin said.