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SBP concerned about Blatche’s conditioning
by rick olivares
With Jordan Clarkson out of the Gilas Pilipinas picture, the country turns to an old reliable in Andray Blatche.
However, SBP President Manuel V. Pangilinan expressed desire that the Blatche that suits up for the qualifiers “Be the Blatche that suited up in Spain and not in Changsa.” The SBP official was referred to Blatche’s fitness and conditioning that clearly left much to be desired during the recent FIBA Asia Championships in China where the Philippines finished with a silver medal and out of a direct slot to the Rio Olympics. For the Philippines to qualify for Rio, they must win the Olympic Qualifiers in Manila where some of the world’s toughest teams are competing.
“This is a different ballgame compared to the FIBA Asia because now we’re up against some of the best in the world and not the region,” explained Pangilinan.
According to Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, they clearly and explicitly impressed upon Blatche’s agent the need to be fit. “So much is riding on him at the moment,” pointed out Antonio who has been with the team since 2008. “Without Clarkson, we need to be able to hold our own inside the paint.”
When asked about the participation of the Philippine Basketball Association, Pangilinan was a little cryptic. “I think since we’re playing at home, there will not be any reasons for some of our best not to play.”
“Right now, we have our Monday practices,” said Antonio referring to Gilas. “We’re getting there. We’re not yet there but we’re getting there.”
National Team head coach Tab Baldwin will return to Manila Wednesday evening after being out the past couple of weeks due to a death in the family.