Blatche 'hurt' by Gilas non-inclusion, but says he's always available
MANILA, Philippines – Naturalized player Andray Blatche admitted he was "hurt" after being left out of Gilas Pilipinas, but claimed that he will always be available to reinforce the squad in future international tournaments.
In a lengthy message through Theia Sports, he said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) didn't inform him of his non-inclusion in the 20-man pool for the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers when it was released to the media.
After sitting out the fourth window due to his three-game suspension from FIBA for his role in the infamous Philippines-Australia brawl, Blatche had a chance to return to national team duties against Iran in the fifth window.
But Team Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao and the SBP opted to go with Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle as the team's potential naturalized players.
"I was suspended for 3 games because I came to the defense of a fellow brother-in-arms. I rushed to (RR) Pogoy to protect him when I thought the Australian player was going to hurt him more when he was down," he wrote.
"I took the punishment from FIBA despite the fact that I believed the SBP leadership should have fought harder for its team and appealed. I looked forward to rejoining the team for the December 3 game."
"In fact, I didn't sign in China this season despite several offers because I wanted to be fully available for Gilas and not have to deal with my Chinese team deciding when I could leave to join Gilas practice!"
Guiao had previously explained that he chose to gamble on Standhardinger over Blatche since the Filipino-German workhorse has proven to be a steady force for Gilas with his stints in the Asian Games and the fourth window.
Also, the fiery mentor said that they didn't know if the 6-foot-11 big man was in top shape since he didn't play competitive basketball heading into the fifth window. (READ: Andray Blatche not completely out of Gilas program)
But Blatche asserted that he is ready to play against the Iranians, whom the Filipinos will host on December 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
"I've kept myself in shape and game ready for the December 3 game," he said.
"So it was a bit of a shocker for me when I learned from the news reports that I wasn't included in the lineup. No one from the SBP actually communicated with me or my international agents before the news was released.
"I think it was a very unprofessional way to handle someone like me who has so much invested in the Gilas program. The way this was handled was not a good representation of Filipinos in general who are kind and hospitable and loyal."
"I love my Filipino fans and to me, they are the best in the world. I think Filipino basketball players are fantastic because they have mad skills and a passionate heart. I must admit I was very hurt by how carelessly I was discarded by the SBP."
The former NBA player also mentioned his previous sacrifices for the national team, including playing for the country during his mother's battle with cancer and leaving his then-newly born daughter to join the team.
"I wish I was there to make sure we win," he added.
"I'd like to think that I was instrumental along with coach Chot (Reyes) and my teammates in bringing the team to where it is now and I am invested in my adopted country winning and getting to the World Cup."
Despite all that has transpired, Blatche reiterated that he is open to play for the Philippines again.
"I love the Philippines and especially Filipino basketball fans and am proud to have a Philippine passport and I will always be available should my adopted country need me in any capacity."