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Photo by Czeasar Dancel/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – There’s a reason naturalized big man Andray Blatche was low on energy in the 2015 MVP Cup, and it’s not solely because he is out of shape.
“He literally is on a soup and salad diet for the last however long since he’s been back – 7 to 8 days,” Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin revealed on Sunday, September 13 after the nationals swept the 4-nation pocket tournament.
“He had no energy – none – for this Cup. And that’s not because he’s out of shape. That’s because there was nothing going in the fuel tank.”
The 29-year old Blatche has been criticized for his lack of conditioning since he arrived for the first full Gilas training early in August. The 6-foot-11 center-forward said then all he needs is the entire month of August to get back on track, after a long lay-off following his Chinese Basketball Association stint where he tended to his ailing mother. (READ: Baldwin declares faith in Gilas: 'I believe in my players')
But unfortunate circumstances got in the way of Blatche’s training as his uncle passed away just as the Philippine national basketball team was about to fly to Taiwan for the William Jones Cup. Blatche missed the entire tourney where Gilas won the silver medal as he went home to the US to attend the wake and proceeded back to Manila about a week ago. (READ: Misfiring Blatche will get better, says Baldwin)
“One of the things that none of you guys knew and the fans didn’t know is before, when he came back from his uncle’s funeral, I told him you can’t run yourself into the ground now,” Baldwin explained.
“There’s no time for that. You’ll injure yourself and we don’t want that. So I said let’s attack your conditioning by starving you.” (READ: Gilas in a race to get Blatche into shape, accustomed to system)
Blatche has since been practicing full-time and playing without much solid food in his system. Baldwin said Blatche was not forced to take on the diet – the former NBA cager voluntarily subjected himself to the measure in an effort to get himself ready in time for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, which starts on September 23 in Changsha, Hunan, China.
“I hope we’ll see the benefit of that as we go into next week and he’s gonna start getting some energy back now,” said Baldwin, who finally allowed Blatche a cheat day on Sunday.
“Today I told him at lunch, eat something,” Baldwin said. “He was happy to eat something.”
A hearty lunch certainly gave Blatche much-needed boost as he topscored for Gilas in their final game versus Chinese Taipei with 18 points on top of 12 rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
“Shot the ball better tonight definitely. Took better shots,” said Baldwin. “He’s still isn’t getting baseline to baseline and sometimes during the game we need him to do that. He’s aware of that, he’s working on it. He has the right attitude about working on it.”
Blatche’s energy is expected to pick up in the coming week when Gilas goes into seclusion in Cebu for a whole week before flying to China for the FIBA Asia tilt. – Rappler.com