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Blatche sustains injury in Gilas practice

MANILA, Philippines – One week into Gilas Pilipinas practice, naturalized center Andray Blatche sustained an injury, head coach Tab Baldwin revealed late Monday night, August 10.

“We have to figure that one out. It’s kind of a quirky one. It’s either in his upper groin or lower stomach. We’re not sure yet,” Baldwin said after practiced wrapped up at the Meralco Gym in Pasig. 

“We’ll have to get that checked out but it’s bothering him and he can’t quite go full speed. Hopefully we’ll get that resolved quickly and hopefully it’s nothing serious.”

The exact injury is yet to be determined but Baldwin said it’s been bothering Blatche for a few days already. Team manager Butch Antonio said Blatche will have it checked Tuesday, August 11. 

“We’ll have to see,” Baldwin said. “It’s not anything that’s surprising because he’s been away from basketball for so long but I’m really trying to hold him back but he really wants to go full speed. He’s got to be a bit careful with himself until his conditioning gets better.”

Blatche, who arrived in Manila a little over a week ago, is out of shape and had not played basketball for a while as he tended to his mother with cancer. But the former NBA cager gave assurances that all he’ll need is the entire month of August to get himself back up and running. 

“Conditioning is the biggest issue for him. Getting his body to where he can go through trainings at a hundred percent, we’re not there yet,” explained Baldwin.

“But he’s working hard and he’s just got a couple of niggly little injuries that are bothering him and we’ve got to treat those and help him get up to full speed. As soon as he gets there, we have, I think, one of the best players in international basketball in the world. But he’s got to get up to a hundred percent.”

Gilas has been hit with a rash of injuries and availability problems with its center June Mar Fajardo leading the pack as he begged off due to plantar fasciitis injury in both feet.

Forward Kelly Williams is also out after suffering an MCL injury as he slipped on a wet spot on the court just as the first full Gilas practice was about to start last week. Ranidel de Ocampo is still not participating in training due to a hamstring injury that's still hurting him.

Guard LA Tenorio took a leave of absence from the team citing fatigue and health reasons. Baldwin said the door remains open for Tenorio in the event he changes his mind and Gilas still needs him.

Hustle guy Marc Pingris, on the other hand, is unable to join practice due to a scheduled trip to France. He returns to the country on Wednesday, August 12.

The dwindling pool forced Baldwin to call up retired Jimmy Alapag to serve as practice player. Baldwin has declared there is a possibility the veteran guard might see action once more, and Alapag said he would be more than willing to make one more Gilas run.

The national team is set to compete for the gold and an Olympics berth at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship this September in Changsha, Hunan, China. Full practices for the national team began August 3. – Rappler.com