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Gilas pressed with time as Blatche can only practice for 10 days

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By Miles Morales

Gilas Pilipinas, once again, will be on cramming mode in its practices for the coming crucial windows of the Fiba World Cup qualifier.

This is after naturalized player Andray Blatche, who will arrive in the country this Friday, will have to return in China to play for his mother ballclub earlier than scheduled.

Coach Yeng Guiao said the 6-foot-11 NBA veteran will only be able to join the team for a total of 10 days as he will return back to China on Feb. 11 to to play for the Tianjin Gold Lions, which are currently campaigning in the Northern Division of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

Once the Blatche leaves for China, he wouldn’t have any connections with the team until he joins the Filipinos in Qatar by Feb. 16.

“Si Blatche darating siya ng Feb. 1 and aalis siya ng Feb. 11, so within that time we have to squeeze in as much time as we can play together,” said Guiao.

The only competitive game the national squad will have is against Alab Pilipinas with Blatche on board. Their planned friendly against Israel has apparently been scrapped due to logistics issues.

On the bright side, Guiao is impressed with how this batch of national team have formed chemistry with one another — which is definitely ahead of schedule.

Gilas will play Qatar on Feb. 21 and then travel to Kazakhstan for its game against the home team on Feb. 24 for the final window of the qualifier.