Blatche beefs up Philippines in FIBA World Cup elims

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino naturalized player Andray Blatche, free from any commitment with the Chinese league on its break, is flying in from the US on the first week of June to once again lead Gilas Pilipinas in their games versus Chinese Taipei and Australia in the third window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

“Our agreement is first week of June, but make it plus or minus. Alam naman natin na si Andray,” said Gilas team manager Butch Antonio.

In his previous stints with Gilas, Blatche didn’t come on agreed date.

But the most important is his commitment to continue to help Team Phl to achieve its cherished goal of making the 2019 World Cup in China.

Gilas clashes with Chinese Taipei in Taiwan on June 29 then closes its campaign in the first round of group plays by hosting Team Australia at the Philippine Arena on July 2.

With a 3-1 mark, the Nationals are assured of a spot in the next round versus the top three from among Iran, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Iraq. Team Phl, however, must repeat versus Chinese Taipei and get back at Australia to improve its carry-over slate.

The Filipinos topped the Taiwanese, 90-83, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Nov. 27 then dropped a 68-84 loss against the Aussies in Melbourne on Feb. 22. Gilas has swept its home and away games versus Japan for its 3-1 card.