ANDRAY Blatche finally got himself reacquainted with Gilas Pilipinas as he led the 12 men who showed up for its early Monday night practice at Meralco Gym.
The 32-year-old naturalized Filipino reunited with familiar faces in Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo, Troy Rosario, Raymond Almazan and Roger Pogoy.
It was also the first time Blatche had a chance to have an official practice with Poy Erram, Scottie Thompson and Mark Barroca, as well as new national coach Yeng Guiao.
Japeth Aguilar and Paul Lee were also present but didn’t participate due to injuries. Aguilar sprained his ankle on Saturday, while Lee hurt his thumb on Sunday.
Marcio Lassiter and backup naturalized player Christian Standhardinger missed the practice.
Gilas Pilipinas is bracing for two must-win games in the sixth window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers later this month.
Gilas sits at fourth place in Group F of the second round with its 5-5 win-loss card, and needs to sweep the remaining games to get a chance to advance to the global hoops tilt in China in August.
Only the top three teams in both groups, as well as the best fourth place team will earn a ticket to the World Cup.
Awaiting the Philippines is Qatar on Feb. 21 in Doha, before a rematch against Kazakhstan on Feb. 24 in Astana.