Gilas Pilipinas has been preparing for the inclusion of Andray Blatche, who is scheduled to arrive in Manila Friday afternoon, by running new plays designed for the naturalized center in its last few practices.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche will reinforce the Philippine team in must-win road games against Qatar on February 21 and Kazakhstan on February 24 in the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.
"We are already designing some simple plays for him. We're designing it so that when he arrives, it will be easy for him to adjust to the plays," said national coach Yeng Guiao.
Blatche will play under Guiao for the first time as this will be his first stint with Gilas Pilipinas since FIBA suspended him in the aftermath of the infamous brawl that took place in a game against Australia last July.
Blatche will only spend 10 days in Manila before flying back to China on February 11 due to prior commitments with the Tianjin Gold Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association.
To maximize his stay, Blatche will also practice with Guiao's PBA team, the NLEX Road Warriors, on top of the twice-a-week practices with Gilas Pilipinas. This will help him learn more about Guiao's system.
"He's going to be practicing practically every day, running the same plays although not with the same group of people. It's not ideal but that's okay," said Guiao.
The Philippine team will resume practice on Monday, followed by a tune-up game with Alab Pilipinas on Tuesday.
"We have to be able to test ourselves in a tune-up game or be able to simulate the game situation so we can see if we're ready or not," said Guiao. "We don't have the luxury of time as usual so the simpler the system, the better it is for us. It's a little easier because 90 percent of these guys have already played for me. From what I hear, Blatche is very intelligent and he can adapt easily."