MANILA, Philippines – As Gilas Pilipinas' World Cup bid hangs in the balance, Andray Blatche has once again expressed his desire to return to the national team.
The naturalized big man posted a photo of him, Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva and Jayson Castro wearing Pilipinas jerseys on Instagram on Tuesday, December 4, with a short but significant message.
"Three of us are missing, I'm sure they ready as well. Let's do what needs to be done, 'the bad boyz,'" he wrote. (READ: Blatche 'hurt' by Gilas non-inclusion, but says he's always available)
View this post on Instagram 3 of us are missing I’m sure they ready as well let’s do wats need to be done “the bad boyz” A post shared by Andray Blatche (@draylive) on Dec 3, 2018 at 9:30pm PST
Blatche, Romeo and Castro have all served their respective 3-game suspensions from FIBA, but the first two were left out of Yeng Guiao's 20-man pool for the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers.
It was only Castro who was tapped by the national team, and he delivered 19 points and 5 rebounds in a 70-78 loss to Iran on Monday, December 3.
Abueva, meanwhile, needs to sit out the entire sixth and final window to complete his six-game suspension – the longest among the 10 Filipino players suspended for their role in the infamous Philippines-Australia brawl.
But now that Gilas lost back-to-back home games in the fifth window – the first against Kazakhstan – the clamor to bring Blatche back to the national team has intensified.
Due to the defeats, the Philippines suffered a huge blow to its bid for a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup as it slipped to 5-5 and 4th place in Group F. Only the top 3 are guaranteed spots in the global basketball meet.
The door for Blatche's return is still open, though, as Guiao explained he could be considered for the sixth window, where Gilas must win its final two games against Kazakhstan and Qatar in February.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.