SBP concerned about Blatche's conditioning
MANILA, Philippines – With Jordan Clarkson out of the Gilas Pilipinas picture, the country turns to an old reliable in Andray Blatche as it prepares for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
But Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manuel V. Pangilinan expressed desire that the Blatche that suits up for the qualifiers "be the Blatche that suited up in Spain and not in Changsha."
Pangilinan was referring to Blatche's fitness and conditioning during the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China, where the Philippines settled for silver and missed an outright berth to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
For Gilas Pilipinas to make it to Rio, they must win the qualifying tournament in Manila this July, where some of the world's toughest teams will be competing.
"This is a different ballgame compared to the FIBA Asia because now we're up against some of the best in the world and not the region," explained Pangilinan.
According to Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, they made it clear to Blatche's agent that the naturalized Filipino cager must be fit.
"So much is riding on him at the moment," pointed out Antonio, who has been with the team since 2008. "Without Clarkson, we need to be able to hold our own inside the paint."
When asked about the participation of the Philippine Basketball Association, Pangilinan was a little cryptic. "I think since we're playing at home, there will not be any reasons for some of our best not to play."
"Right now, we have our Monday practices," said Antonio, referring to Gilas. "We're getting there. We're not yet there but we're getting there."
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin will return to Manila on Wednesday, April 13, after being out the past couple of weeks due to a death in the family. – Rappler.com