After Gilas Pilipinas lost to the Australians in their home turf, Andray Blatche received a tremendous amount of backlash from fans mainly due to his lackluster performance.
The 31-year old naturalized Filipino was huffing and puffing as early as the 2nd period of the game en route to a mediocre 8 point, 7 rebound performance against the taller and younger Boomers.
Fans were actually looking forward to a bounce back game from Blatche after a 6-point, 6-turnover output during the Philippine team’s 1st window game against Chinese-Taipei at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last November 27, 2017.
The 6-foot-11 native of Syracuse, New York was indeed looking fit and trim when he arrived in the country a week before the 2nd window match against the Aussies.
Blatche had a much better performance against the Japanese as Gilas played to a jam-packed MOA Arena. He scored 18 points, hauled down 14 rebounds, issued 4 assists, blocked 1 shot but committed a team-high 5 turnovers.
Once again, the team’s head coach immediately came to his defense.
“As for Andray, his value has always been beyond the numbers and I knoww he had a lot of flak for the last game. He scored 8 points, grabbed 7 rebounds but his job was to guard Daniel Kickert,” said Chot Reyes after the much-needed win over Japan.
“Andray held Kickert to five points. So those of you who understand basketball, you will see that it’s not points only,” he added.
And as the team improved to 3-1 after the close win at home, Reyes reminded the fans of the naturalized player’s true value to the squad.
“If we didn’t have Andray, we would have lost by 30 against Australia, 30 points easily. You can qoute me on that. Andray makes us competitive, regardless of what the numbers or stats show,” Reyes added.