MANILA, Philippines – Andray Blatche’s arrival in the Philippines has been delayed a few more days due to the birth of his son over the weekend.
The naturalized center was supposed to join national team Gilas Pilipinas at the end of April, but it’s been pushed back to May 5 or at the end of the week, according to team manager Butch Antonio.
PBA commentator Quinito Henson posted on his Instagram account a photo of Blatche holding his son and noted how the big man had sought permission from coach Chot Reyes to extend his stay in the US.
Reyes confirmed he spoke with Blatche right after the birth, with the American saying he will stay for his son’s christening.
Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche is a new dad! Andray Jr was born 9 pounds 10 ounces and 22 inches long in South Carolina last Saturday … within an hour from his 1st born's birth, Blatche was on the phone with Gilas coach Chot Reyes asking if he could delay his arrival in Manila by a few days to attend to his baby boy … Blatche will now fly in this Friday May 5 to rejoin Gilas for the SEABA Championships on May 12-18 … Blatche said he's looking forward to playing his best for the country and the Filipino people … he said his son will be in the next generation of Filipino Olympians!!! Full story in tomorrow's issue of @philippinestar … Congrats @draylive0 @smartgilas #gilaspilipinas #labanpusopilipinas
However, Reyes is also displeased by the delay in Blatche’s arrival with the 2017 SEABA Championships moving closer, and he is not ruling out replacing the import should there be more hitches.
“Sabi ko (I told him), we’re seriously considering replacing him. Pag nagloko-loko pa siya papalitan na talaga natin siya (If he fools around we will replace him),” Reyes was quoted as saying in multiple reports.
“There’s a replacement fee, we pay the replacement fee. But I’m not gonna jeopardize the team just because of one person.”
Gilas started daily practices on Monday, May 1, to prepare for the upcoming tournament slated for May 12 to 18 here, where they will vie for the gold and the lone spot to the FIBA Asia Cup in August.
Should Blatche make it to Manila by Friday, that leaves only 6 days before the tournament for him to shake off jetlag, get into game shape, and re-acclimatize himself with this new batch of players that includes several cadets.
“I’m very upset at the unfolding of events,” Reyes added. “Andray knows it, his handlers know it. And like I said, pag nagkaroon pa ng aberya ito (if there’s another hold up), we’re going to replace him.”
Reyes said the cadets and other members of the Gilas pool will be considered as potential replacements should the need arise.
He also expressed serious concern over Blatche’s shape despite him coming off a championship run in the Chinese Basketball Association.
“That’s just really unacceptable but we just kind of have to live with it because it is what it is. I can’t hide my displeasure. I’m very upset.” – Rappler.com