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Gilas' Andray Blatche unsure for next FIBA window

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas’ naturalized import Andray Blatche is unsure about his health condition and may sit out the second home-and-away window of the FIBA Asia/Pacific qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

Blatche, 31, hasn’t played for Xinjiang in the Chinese league since scoring four points in a 105-98 win over Beijing last Dec. 17. He’s down with a hamstring injury. Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said he’s in contact with the 6-11 Blatche to monitor his situation.

“I invited Dray to spend the holidays in Manila and recover from his injury here,” said Reyes. “He told me he’ll go back to the US to recuperate but I saw a recent post from his buddy BX (Bryan Extra) showing he’s still in China. Dray’s committed to play for Gilas in the qualifiers. I just don’t know if he’ll be able to recover in time to play against Australia on Feb. 22 and Japan on Feb. 25.”

The Chinese league did not schedule games during the second window to allow national players to participate in the qualifiers. That also freed up Blatche’s schedule for Gilas. Reyes said Blatche will be a big loss if he’s not able to play in the second window. “Just by being on the court, Dray is an intimidating factor,” said Reyes. “It’s his presence as an NBA veteran. And we could use his height against Australia.”

When the Chinese league started its 2017-18 season last October, Blatche was in the US recovering from a hamstring injury. He missed the first seven games then averaged 26.5 points and 11.5 in back-to-back contests before joining Gilas for the first qualifying window. Blatche averaged 9.5 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and six turnovers in two Gilas wins over Japan and Chinese-Taipei. Then he went back to China and scored only three points in a game last Dec. 1. Blatche sat out the next five assignments, returned to tally four points in a contest last Dec. 14 and another four points against Beijing last Dec. 17. He has now missed Xinjiang’s last six outings.

Photo: TiebreakerTimes
Author: Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star
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