Andray Blatche is sure to play for the Gilas Pilipinas which is preparing for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
And coach Yeng Guiao hopes that the 6’11” Blatche will be available some five months before they fly to China, which will be hosting the cagefest from August 31 to September 15.
“We just want him early so we can make sure that he is in good shape,” said Guiao, who is expected to stay on as head coach of Gilas.
Guiao talked about their coming preparations for the World Cup in the presence of patron Manny Pangilinan and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Alfredo Panililio.
He said that in preparing for the World Cup, Gilas Pilipinas may have to join the 2019 William Jones Cup later this year with Blatche around.
Blatche was instrumental in helping Gilas qualify to the tournament proper of the World Cup, and the Team Pilipinas hurdled their last two games with him around.
And that was when the Philippines scored an 84-46 win over Qatar and a 93-75 thumping of Kazakhstan.
Against Qatar, Blatche shot 17 points. Then he came up with 41 points in their game with the Kazakhs.
“I have no doubt in his ability (in taking over games). It’s his conditioning. If he is good shape, he can take over games,” said Guiao.
For now, Blatche is in China where he is completing his last six games with the Tianjin Gold Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association.
The availability of Blatche will be known afterwards. Whether he will play for a team in the Philippine Basketball Association will be confirmed later as well.
For Gilas to advance in the FIBA World Cup 2019, they have to win two out of the three games in the group stage.
The top two teams from each group will move on to the next round where the 16 remaining teams in contention will be distributed to four different groups.
Meanwhile, a meeting is set today between the SBP and the PBA, which plans to synchronize its schedule with the FIBA World Cup 2019.