Yeng Guiao was humble in victory.
The Team Pilipinas coach admitted Andray Blatche was the major factor in changing the country’s fortune to earn a return trip to the FIBA World Cup in China this August.
In one of the finest performances yet in the just concluded World Cup qualifiers, Blatche came through with 41 points, 13 rebounds, four steals, and two block shots as the Filipino exacted payback against Kazakhstan Sunday night, 93-75, to secure one of the two remaining berths in Asia for the world championship set August 31 to Sept. 15.
In the post-game interview that followed the emotional win, Guiao conceded the 6-foot-11 naturalized player was the ‘game-changer’ for Team Pilipinas.
“We didn’t have Andray Blatche in Manila. I think that was one big factor,” he said, referring to the Filipinos’ Nov. 30 outing against Kazakhstan which they lost, 92-88.
Blatche wouldn’t have been eligible to play for the national team that time as he still has to serve the last of his three-game FIBA suspension.