Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) team manager Butch Antonio plans to personally meet naturalized player Andray Blatche in the United States and check on the playing condition of the Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player.
The trip, according to Antonio, has been approved by no less than SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan, who wants to make sure Blatche will be in shape once he joins the preparation for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) which is set July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
“Of course, it’s totally different if you’re talking to the player, or if you’ll see what he’s been doing with his conditioning. By that I’ll personally know his condition before the tournament,” said Antonio.
The local basketball federation SBP is hoping to avoid a repeat of what happened last year when Blatche arrived entered training camp overweight prior to the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China.
Though he was criticized with his condition, the former NBA player Blatche still helped the national team make the finals, where the Tab Baldwin-mentored squad lost to the Chinese.
In the World Cup, Blatche averaged 21.2 points, 13.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals.
The country earned the right to host one of the OQTs where Gilas Pilipinas is in Group B with France and New Zealand while in Group A are Turkey, Canada and Senegal.
The top two teams of each group will move to the crossover semifinals. The tournament champion will then earn a spot in the Rio Olympics in August. The other OQTs will be played in Serbia and Italy.
Blatche is expected to arrive here in mid-May in time for the training camp supervised by Baldwin.