Null
in

Blatche vindicated – at last

Philippines' Andray Blatche reacts after his team wins against Japan during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, February 25, 2018 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

By JONAS TERRADO

Andray Blatche let out a loud scream the moment Gilas Pilipinas confirmed its 89-84 victory over Japan Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena, the burst of emotions being the signature image of his best performance since the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Philippines' Andray Blatche reacts after his team wins against Japan during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, February 25, 2018 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)
Philippines’ Andray Blatche reacts after his team wins against Japan during the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, February 25, 2018 (Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Blatche, much-maligned for his lackluster showing in the three previous matches, displayed the performance that many wanted to see on a regular basis since he began serving the country as a naturalized player in 2014, finishing with 18 points and 16 rebounds to help Gilas secure passage the final round of the qualifiers.

The former NBA player felt a sense of fulfillment, obviously aware of the criticisms that hounded him in the first window last November and in Thursday’s 84-68 loss to Australia in Melbourne.

“It feels great definitely to advance (to the next round)… definitely from being bashed for the last 36, 48 hours,” Blatche said. “Just to get a win, just to get the weight off my shoulders, just to know I was able to help us get to the second round.”

Entering Sunday’s match, Blatche averaged 9.0 points on 9-of-31 shooting with 11 rebounds. Perhaps the same critics were glad to see him play beyond norm.

“I’m quite sure they’re gonna find something else. All I can do is continue getting better and stay focused,” said Blatche.

Having Blatche leave an imprint on the contest bode well for Gilas on the night it had to erase a 20-4 deficit at the start and nearly squander a double-digit lead if not for Jayson Castro’s dagger with 10.6 seconds left that made it 88-84.

Kiefer Ravena ignited the comeback in the first quarter with five straight points, Troy Rosario made all 14 points in the first two quarters before Castro and Calvin Abueva teamed up with Blatche to build a big margin that forced Japan to play catch up.

“We also knew that Japan was basically fighting for its life so we knew that they would jump on us and come out strong. That’s why we made sure that the second unit was prepared because in my mind, it’s the second unit that was going to get us back into the ballgame,” Reyes said of the group powered by Ravena and Rosario.

Rosario and Castro were glad to produce the needed goods for Gilas after missing the Australia match to injuries, particularly the former who played for the first time after sustaining a bad fall while playing for TNT KaTropa at the same venue.

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Online

EDSA 1 remains significant

Ex-President Aquino: I would’ve stopped Dengvaxia program