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Blatche to miss most of Jones Cup for uncle's funeral, ailing mother

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas will be forced to make do without naturalized slot man Andray Blatche at the 2015 William Jones Cup in Taiwan.

The 29-year old flew back home to the US Saturday morning, August 29 to attend his uncle's funeral and care for his ailing mother, according to a report by Sports5.

Blatche will reportedly miss most of the national men's basketball team's Jones Cup campaign but may catch up in time for Gilas' last two games late next week against USA and Chinese Taipei B.

"He’ll be back with us towards the end of the week but effectively he won’t be playing with us here. Maybe he could play in the last two games," head coach Tab Baldwin was quoted as saying.

Blatche, who has been with the team for close to a month now and saw action in a 4-nation pocket tournament in Estonia last week, previously revealed his mother had cancer. Baldwin says that was the reason Blatche was unable to stay in shape after his Chinese Basketball Association stint as he had to tend to her.

"The situation is tough. His mom is alone now. She lost her last sibling and Andray has been taking care of her in the last 6 months so he wanted to be with her," Baldwin explained.

"It’s tough. But it doesn’t mean we can’t be human because situations are tough. There was no decision to be made. It was only a matter of timing for him and his family and when the funeral is going to be."

Top rookie Moala Tautuaa will take the place of Blatche while the rest of the team is expected to step up to the plate, especially the returning Marc Pingris and Ranidel De Ocampo.

Pingris only just joined Gilas after originally begging off while De Ocampo just came back from an injury, though Baldwin said De Ocampo won't play in all the games.

Only 12 Gilas players will be lined up each outing and Baldwin will rotate his pool like he did in Estonia.

"We’re not limited in people but just not in the level where Andray is," he said. "That’s a little bit difficult for us but it will give everyone else more time. We’re looking at this as positively as we can."

Gilas opens the Jones Cup against Chinese Taipei A on Sunday, August 30 and will play every day until September 6. – Rappler.com