Entering his second FIBA Basketball World Cup stint, naturalized Gilas Pilipinas men’s national team center Andray Blatche remains confident the Philippines can pull off surprises in the international stage.
Speaking to members of the press during the Gilas send-off Wednesday in Ortigas, Blatche said the team will just need focus and mental toughness, especially during crucial moments.
“It’s all about focusing on hitting our shots and playing tough defense, rebounding, and just giving our all,” said Blatche.
“Just remember what we did in the first World Cup, playing against teams we played against for the first time. Anything is possible … It’s great to shock people,” added Blatche.
Blatche was part of the 2014 World Cup team which saw the Philippines win over Senegal while putting up gallant stands against Croatia, Greece, Argentina, and Puerto Rico although dropping those four matches.
The former Brooklyn Net led the squad in 2014 with 21.2 PPG and 13.8 RPG. He was joined by the likes of Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Marc Pingris.
With the current team made of mostly first-timers in the World Cup level, Blatche understands the responsibility he has when it comes to leading the team in the right direction.
Blatche also knows teams are preparing for Gilas now, unlike the first time they joined the World Cup this decade.
“It’s going to be a little tougher for us because teams are expecting our style of play. Teams are aware of what we can do. No team is going to come out and like, Oh, it’s the Philippines again. We got to work very hard on defense, rebound, and hopefully, all our open shots, we will knock them down.”