Reyes hoping to have Blatche for SEABA Championship
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes believes that he and his teams cannot afford to leave anything to chance when it comes to the SEABA Championship 2017. This is especially true this year since only the tournament winner will qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 in Beirut, Lebanon.
That's the main reason that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has called no less than many of the best stars of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to fight for flag and country. Household names like Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva and three-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo headline Reyes's national pool.
For most people, that should be enough for Gilas Pilipinas to conquer the SEABA Championship, which the Philippines will actually host in either Manila or Cebu in May. With other SEABA nations like Singapore and Malaysia making marked improvements and legitimate threats like Indonesia and Thailand expected to bring in naturalized players, the Filipinos know there is no room for complacency - not even in a competition they have pretty much dominated since its inception in 1994.
In light of this, coach Chot is banking on naturalized center Andray Blatche to make himself available for Gilas even for the SEABA Championship.
“I think we have the right mix, and I think we can get Andray to come and play as well," Reyes told local media. "I know some of our countrymen may say it’s overkill, but the way I look at it, there’s no such thing as overkill when it’s a must-win situation."
Blatche, who first played for the Philippines in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014, is currently plying his trade for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Even if Xinjiang reaches the CBA Finals, Blatche should still be free to fly to the Philippines and join Gilas for the sub-zone's premier basketball joust.
Much of Blatche's participation still depends on his health and his plans after the CBA season closes, but with the level of SEABA competition rising and Gilas Pilipinas's window for preparation and training getting smaller by the day, the 2.11m slotman's presence is certainly a needed boost.