Gilas Pilipinas is tipped to be in its best following the early arrival of naturalized player Andray Blatche and the return of Calvin Abueva with still two weeks before the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The sweet-shooting Blatche made true to his word and arrived Saturday to join Gilas Pilipinas’ training while Abueva is finally back on board after a week of absence.
Also in attendance in their weekly Monday training at the Meralco gym were Japeth Aguilar, Gabe Norwood, Matthew Wright, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Jio Jalalon, Carl Bryan Cruz, Mac Belo and Baser Amer, who is subbing in for the suspended Kiefer Ravena.
June Mar Fajardo and Allein Maliksi are missing action, as well as Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, who were still competing in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Gilas cadet members Kobe Paras, Ricci Rivero, Arvin Tolentino, Robert Bolick, Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go and Abu Tratter participated in training.
Coming off a fresh stint with Xinjiang Flying Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association, Blatche showed up in perfect shape and declared excitement to lead Gilas Pilipinas in its bid to exact revenge from Australia and repeat against Chinese Taipei.
Blatche is serious in redeeming himself in their July 2 clash with the Boomers at the Philippine Arena after he was limited to just eight points in their 68-84 setback to the last February in Melbourne.
The Boomers will parade Milwaukee Bucks stars Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker, giving them experience and firepower on both ends.
Prior to facing Australia, Gilas Pilipinas will try to duplicate its 90-83 victory over Chinese Taipei in a road game in Taiwan on June 29.
It was Abueva’s first appearance after going incommunicado that prompted Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu to slap him with an indefinite team suspension.
Uytengsu still made Abueva available should Gilas head coach Chot Reyes seek his services for the national team.