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Are We Better Off With Or Without Blatche? (And Other Gilas Headlines)

Here we go again: Is Dray a boon or bane for the national team?
by John Paulo Aguilera | Feb 13, 2018
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We're less than a couple of weeks before Gilas Pilipinas resumes FIBA World Cup qualifiers action against Australia, so don't be suprised with the influx of news about the Philippine national basketball team.

Returns and injuries have defined the current Gilas pool, not to mention the advance participation of several "23 for 23" members. As their first acid test in more than two months draws near, the level of anticipation is rising by the second.

Trying to make sense of these game-changing circumstances, FHM breaks down each prevailing headline and puts our two cents in:

Private Gilas practices

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Our take: This is Chot Reyes' way of saying this group is entirely business and cannot afford any distraction. A secret training makes it hard to check up on their progress, but if it also means improving and meshing as a unit more rapidly, then who are we to complain? We'd rather have a better team facing the Boomers than watching them do drills and play pickup.

Andray: Yay or nay?

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Reyes via, "He (Andray Blatche) looks fit but too early to tell. We didn't do anything much today. He's just getting back into the groove of things. It should be a harder practice tomorrow."

Our take: His imposing presence—all 6'11" and 260 pounds of him—has always been a beautiful dilemma for Gilas. There's no question about the versatility that Dray brings on the court, even more so if he feels like it. At the same time, we all know how much of a ball-stopper he can be. Coach Chot has to think long and hard whether the team is better off without Blatche.


Super Marcio super interested

Marcio Lassiter via "I just try to keep myself stay healthy. That's the most important thing, I want to be healthy. Now it's just day-by-day, take it game-by-game. When it comes, it comes."

Our take: It's interesting to see how Lassiter balances his commitment to the national team and PBA dominance. Sucks that Marcio, 30, wasn't able to suit up for previous iterations of the PH squad, depriving them of wing help. One thing going for him is his shooting touch, which automatically merits him consideration. After all, one can't have enough shooters for international play.

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Ricci rich in talent

Ricci Rivero via "Siguro training muna ako sa ibang teams na pwede ako makatulong or may pwede akong laruan, ganun...pero not necessarily try out for other teams."

Our take: The lone positive from the whole DLSU debacle involving the Rivero brothers and Brent Paraiso is Ricci being available for Gilas training. Getting some burn with his future teammates this early is crucial for someone who is expected to represent the country in 2023. If anything, he needs to worry more about where he'll end up next collegiate season.

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Beast please?

Calvin Abueva via "Basta ako nandito lang, best effort lang, at ibibigay ko lang lahat ng kaya ko. Depende na lang kung ano mangyari. Baka mabaligtad ulit yung mundo."

Our take: Remember when The Beast was considered the poster boy for the "Puso" mantra and heir apparent to Marc Pingris? Now, Abueva has been cut from the team in three separate occasions. Calvin's heart more than makes up for his lack of height, but against foreign seven-footers, he is visibly overmatched. Still, it has been a magnificent run for the enigmatic forward.


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