WHILE the Philippine Basketball Association is still in the middle of a crisis, the opposite can be said for Gilas Pilipinas.
The National team is surprisingly intact and now looks forward to the return of naturalized player and former NBA veteran Andray Blatche.
Blatche’s status to rejoin the team for the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers late this month is confirmed and he is scheduled to be back in the country next week, Nov. 12, to start training with the pool of National coach Chot Reyes.
Gilas missed the services of Blatche in the last FIBA Asia Cup several months ago in Beirut as he begged off due to security reasons.
Now, the team looks forward to welcoming Blatche back as he will be a boost for the Philippines’ pivotal campaign ahead.
The Philippines is set to take on Japan on Nov. 24 t the Komazawa Olympic Park General Sports Gymnasium before facing Chinese Taipei on Nov. 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Australia will be the PH team’s final Group B foe.
The Gilas pool, led by Reyes, started practicing last Friday and it has less than three weeks to prepare for the battles ahead.
Due to the status of league commissioner Chito Narvasa, there were doubts that Gilas might be affected but for a start, that wasn’t the case.
Most players that are part of the pool were present in the team’s first practices back led by four-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Gabe Norwood, Raymund Almazan, Jio Jalalon, Allein Maliksi, Mac Belo, Kevin Alas and Carl Bryan Cruz.
Other key parts of the pool such as No. 2 overall pick Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Baser Amer, LA Revilla, Von Pessumal and Mike Tolomia are set to join the training the soonest as well.
Once majority of the training has been conducted, Reyes will then choose his final 12 from the pool that will represent the country in the qualifiers.