The Philippine national men’s basketball team is still negotiating with naturalized player Andray Blatche on his FIBA Asia Cup stint almost a month before the tournament tip-off.
Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio told InterAksyon that while the former NBA player has expressed interest in playing, no formal agreement has been made about his participation in the tournament scheduled on August 8 to 20 in Lebanon.
“He really wants to come in and play for us, but nothing is certain at this time. We’re still negotiating,” said Antonio.
The 6’11” versatile center last saw action for Gilas Pilipinas in the SEABA Men’s Championship which they swept to book a place in the FIBA Asia Cup, the continent’s premier competition for national teams.
Blatche’s services, however, will be much more needed in the FIBA Asia Cup as the Filipinos take on defending champion China, Qatar and Iraw in the tough Group B.
24-man pool, final 12 submission
Apart from securing Blatche’s commitment, coach Chot Reyes is also working on the team’s 24-man roster which it needs to submit on Friday.
The deadline for finalizing the final 12-man lineup, expected to be bannered by PBA veterans, is set on July 18.
“Coach Chot and Commissioner (Chito) Narvasa are always talking,” Antonio said. “We need to submit the 24-man this week. The 24-man is easier because we can include the players who are in the pool. The hardest part is the final 12.”
Reyes has already named Gilas’ final lineups for the upcoming Jones Cup this July and the Southeast Asian Games also in August which both feature mostly young players.