MANILA, PHILIPPINES – After naming the 17 PBA players who will be part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool, naturalized player Andray Blatche confirmed to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) that he will make himself available in Olympic qualifying tournament in July 2016.
The former Brooklyn Nets big man said to SBP deputy director for international affairs Butch Antonio that he will bolster the Gilas after the FIBA Asia men’s championships in Changsha, China, finishing the team with a silver medal.
“Yes (Blatche gave his assurance) before he left (for the U.S.). He said if it (Gilas joins the Olympic qualifying tournament) happens, we just let him know. He’s dedicated to us,” Antonio said in an interview with Philstar.com.
Gilas Pilipinas’ Blatche averaged 17.8 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in the Asian championships, but still fell short to automatically gain a ticket for 2016 Rio Olympics.
In able to regain their berth to Rio Olympics, the Philippines will have to go through the qualifying tournament next year, where the competition was said to be tougher one because of the presence of other nations from America, Africa, Europe, and Asia-Oceania.
Through PBA’s support in forming the national pool of men’s basketball team, the league’s board agreed to lend their top 17 players.
Completing the list of 17-man pool are reigning MVP Junemar Fajardo who failed to join the team in Changsha, China due to his injuries on both feet; and Barangay Ginebra youthful slotman Greg Slaughter. The team will be handled by Gilas coach Tab Baldwin.
Other cagers who formed the national pool include LA Tenorio, Ian Sangalang, Japheth Aguilar and Marcio Lassiter, with Rain or Shine gunners Paul Lee and Jeff Chan, and Talk ’n Text defense specialist Ryan Reyes.
The remaining members from the Gilas Pilipinas 3.0 team are Marc Pingris, Matt Ganuelas Rosser, Troy Rosario, Calvin Abueva, Gabe Norwood, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jayson Castro, and Terrence Romeo.
Antonio said the Gilas coach is set to come up with training preparations that will start on November every Monday.
“We’re making plans for that already (Monday practices). Then hahanapan mo ng windows for more practices, and maybe, take advantage of breaks (in PBA schedule),” Antonio told Philstar.com