MANILA, March 4 -- The Philippine national basketball team hopes to have veteran Andray Blatche on board as early as possible in order to tune up for the 2019 FIBA World Cup to be staged in China later this year.
"We would want to be able to prepare at least two months (for the coming World Cup). Instead of two to three weeks, maybe we can stretch it to two to three months," head coach Yeng Guiao said on Sunday.
"And part of that preparation is getting Blatche in early and competing close to the level of the World Cup," he said.
During the qualifiers in February, Blatche had less than three weeks of practice with his teammates. But he was quick enough to integrate himself to Guiao's system and help the Philippines to reach the World Cup.
And it is obviously not enough for the 32-year-old naturalized player to prepare for the quadrennial World Cup where the world's best 32 teams will bout for basketball supremacy.
Besides, the former NBA player's fitness had been a concern when he was away from the national team and when he was not playing competitive basketball.
"We have to look and find a way to get him here early, get him in shape, and have him ready for the World Cup," Guiao added.
Blatche will be ending up his stint in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) by March, and is set to return to the U.S. for a short vacation.
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