Gilas Pilipinas didn't get a chance to play a scrimmage game with Andray Blatche, but coach Yeng Guiao believes they've accomplished their goal in the naturalized big man's brief stint in Manila.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche practiced with TNT combo guard Jayson Castro, along with a few NLEX role players in Paul Varilla, Eman Monfort, Raul Soyud and Papot Paredes to continue his familiarization with how Gilas plays.
And so far, so good.
"Some positive signs we had with Andray here is No. 1, he's in good shape. Because that has been my No. 1 worry when Andray wasn't here. Then, No. 2, he's in high spirits because he really wants to play and he's really motivated to play for the national team," Guiao told ESPN5 on Saturday. "His desire is really high to help us win. So that's very important."
Add to that, Blatche was able to understand Guiao's system in the short time he's had with the national squad.
"He picked up the plays really quick, even if time was short. So I think we've done substantial work in getting him to understand the system," the fiery Gilas mentor said.
Guiao said Blatche has been doing everything he can to keep himself in shape while in Manila, doing twice-a-day workouts under the watchful eye of his personal trainer.
The 32-year-old Blatche is scheduled to return to China on Monday to rejoin the Tianjin Gold Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association, where he is averaging 18.7 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocked shots in 11 games.
Blatche will be reunited with Gilas on Feb. 16 in Qatar, where they will have four twice-a-day practices before facing the host team on Feb. 21.
From there, Guiao said that Gilas will fly to Turkey, where they will have an eight-hour layover before traveling to Astana and prepare for their FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier against Kazakhstan on Feb. 24.