WATCH: Andray Blatche returns to Manila; Guiao has trust in his conditioning

Naturalized Gilas Pilipinas men’s national team center Andray Blatche has returned to Manila to re-join the squad’s on-going preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China on August.

Blatche landed on Saturday and was met by Gilas team manager Gabby Cui, head coach Yeng Guiao, and assistant coach Ryan Gregorio.

Blatche led the nationals in the crucial 6th window of the Asian Qualifiers with back to back sterling performances over Qatar and Kazakhstan to carry them to a 2nd consecutive World Cup appearance.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio told ESPN5: “We are happy to welcome Andray back in Manila. It is a great development that he is here early to get reacquainted with his teammates and coaches as we get ourselves ready for the FIBA World Cup in China. We are excited to see a full Gilas Pilipinas roster who will be ready to fight for flag and country.”

Guiao said in a separate interview that having Blatche with more than a month to go will get him accustomed to the system more and get him in tip top shape.

“The reason we wanted to get him this early is because whatever shape he’s in, we want him to get in shape,” said Guiao. “We don’t expect him to be in a bad shape too. We expect him to have a degree of fitness and conditioning.”

Guiao added that he has trust in Blatche taking care of his body.

“Alam naman niya na may competition. But I don’t think he is close to a hundred percent by (July 13),” he said.

Blatche will join Gilas’ twice-a-week practices starting on Monday.