MANILA, Philippines—Naturalized Filipino center Andray Blatche will arrive in Manila on Saturday, to join Gilas Pilipinas in its preparations for the upcoming 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Gilas assistant coach Caloy Garcia confirmed as much to the national team on Thursday night, after a quick practice at Meralco Gym.
With Blatche's arrival, the national team's practices are expected to become more intense.
"He's arriving Saturday, that's what we just announced. So for sure starting Monday, mas tataas na 'yung level ng practice namin," said Garcia, who called the shots on Thursday as head coach Yeng Guiao was attending to a personal commitment.
"I think coach Yeng is hoping that he's in shape," said the Rain Or Shine mentor, when asked what they expect from Blatche. "Like the last time he came in, when he came from China, he was in shape."
"I think that's the one thing that we're looking at right now. Kung hindi siya in shape, I think he's gonna be practicing with NLEX."
Guiao and the Gilas players have been satisfied with the progress that they are making ahead of Blatche's arrival. Last Monday, they played Mighty Sports to an 85-all draw in their first tune-up game, showing tremendous fight against a team that featured five imports.
"We just need to continue to get better and better, so we can prepare ourselves when the time comes," said Gilas guard Marcio Lassiter after their game. "So everyday, when Blatche comes, we can really just be really sharp."
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.