MANILA, Philippines – Naturalized import Andray Blatche is already in Manila to regroup with his teammates from Gilas Pilipinas.
The 6-foot-11 big man was spotted in a photo with a fan on Instagram, with the location set at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City. Jonas Ruiz, the fan who took the photo, said he saw Blatche arrive at the hotel at 12:25 am on Saturday, May 28.
Blatche was expected to fly in Friday, May 27, after taking roughly two weeks time off to "attend to some private family matters that are very important." It is reported his mother, who has been battling cancer, has just undergone surgery.
12:38AM: Welcome to the Philippines, Andray Blatche! A photo posted by Jonas Ruiz (@joenasruiz) on May 27, 2016 at 9:41am PDT
The 29-year-old former Brooklyn Net rejoins the Philippine national men's basketball team for the first time since helping them nab the silver medal in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha, China last October.
Blatche has since participated in the Chinese Basketball Association.
The Philippine team has constantly been assured of Blatche's condition in maintaining game shape. With a little less than two weeks before Gilas departs for a Europe training camp on June 10, Blatche is set to hit the ground running and will reportedly participate in practice on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Fil-Am Los Angeles Laker Jordan Clarkson also arrived in Manila Friday reportedly as a trip for shoe brand Nike. Reports say Clarkson may join practice as well Saturday, though his name has not been included to the 24-man pool submitted to FIBA.
The Philippines is in the thick of preparations for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament slated for July 5 to 10 in Manila, where they hope to snag the lone ticket to the Rio Olympics in August. – with a report from Jee Geronimo/Rappler.com