Philippines Rumors

Former National Basketball Association (NBA) player Andray Blatche has committed 100 percent to Gilas Pilipinas in its FIBA Asia championship campaign this year. The naturalized Filipino is expected to be in Manila near the end of the PBA Governors’ Cup to join the team’s practices ahead of the Olympic qualifier. “We expect him to be with us. I’ve spoken to Andray and he’s told me he’s committed and will be 100 percent with the team,” Gilas coach Tab Baldwin told Richard Dy in a report to sports website Spin. “I want to get him here virtually before we go to the (training) camp, or maybe a little bit before that. Hopefully, before the end of the third conference,” Baldwin added.
Despite Fil-Am Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson expressing interest in playing for the national team, head coach Tab Baldwin admitted Gilas Pilipinas is not likely to naturalize guards in the near future, stating that big men are still the priority. “The difficult thing for Jordan is traditionally the Philippines needs a big man in a naturalized role,” he said Sunday, March 22 following Talk ’N Text’s twice-to-beat clinching win over Alaska in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. “If there ever came a time that we needed a guard, it’s great to know that Jordan is available. He’s easy to naturalize.”
Former NBA small forward Terrence Williams, after a short-lived stint that included just one practice, has been released from Israeli side Maccabi Ashdod, sources told Basketball Insiders. According to sources, Williams, the No. 11 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, is in discussions for a new deal with clubs from Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In mid-January, Williams signed a no-cut four-month offer sheet worth $68,000 in Ashdod and was immediately dubbed one of the most talented players in the Middle East. The problem was, the coach that initially lured Williams overseas had gotten fired.
wpid-i_c6_28_89_182617411.jpg
It only took three days for Robin Lopez to fall in love with the Philippines, so much so that the American NBA center has presented himself as another naturalization candidate for the country’s basketball team. “If the whole Andray Blatche thing doesn’t work out, I’m here for Gilas,” Lopez said on Thursday after conducting a training camp organized by Gatorade and NBA Philippines at the Hoops Center in Mandaluyong. “I don’t wish any harm to come to Dray because obviously he’s played his heart out for that team and he’s a great fit,” the Portland Trail Blazer said, referring to Blatche, who reinforced Gilas as a naturalized Filipino in the recent Fiba World Cup.
wpid-i_5e_91_7e_andray_blatche.jpg
Blatche was not just a hit on the court at the World Cup, but also with his teammates, says team capatain Jimmy Alapag. “The type of relationships he built with the guys on the team in one month and a half and the effort in games and practices really said a lot about Andray,” Alapag told HoopsHype. “We were on the road together for about a month. That helped a lot to build that camaraderie and get to know Andray better. He was committed to the program from Day 1 and I think it showed.”
Moments after the Philippines won its first FIBA World Cup game in 40 years, naturalized player Andray Blatche told Yahoo Philippines Sports that he wants to return to the country to thank the Filipino people for the tremendous support Gilas received. “The support we got from the Philippines and right here in Spain is more than enough for us to work so hard for this win. I love it. I can’t wait to get back to Manila to give my thanks,” said Blatche.
Andray Blatche ended his first game at FIBA World Cup with Philippines National Team with 28 points and 12 rebounds. “Unfortunately we lost today but today’s game confirms how much I trust my teammates. We fought until the end against a much stronger opponent and we had also the final shot to win it. I felt good, we must play again like today without being afraid of our opponents. In addition to points and rebounds my task is also to give confidence to my teammates. I am very optimistic for the next games, Philippines will continue to impress as today and we want to make out great fans happier than today”, said Blatche.
Pryor told me it took only a couple of phone calls to reach Blatche and deliver the Philippines’ pitch. Pryor, Reyes, and Blatche have all declined to reveal the exact amount Blatche signed for, but Bryant and Durant each reportedly received $400,000 to participate in the 2011 lockout exhibitions and Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that some NBA players who flew to Manila for a two-day event in late July earned upward of $150,000.
Gilas reached out to Blatche through Duke Pryor, an Indianapolis-based consultant whose extensive basketball Rolodex allows him to serve as a fixer for businesses or, in this case, national basketball teams that are seeking the services of NBA talent. Pryor, whose connections come from a decade spent mentoring elite high school players, many of whom now play in the NBA, comes across as a minor World Wide Wes–style sports power broker. He helped bring Bryant back to Manila in August 2013 for an appearance on behalf of Lenovo laptops, and SBP hired him to act as its emissary in acquiring Blatche.
Newcomers Andray Blatche and Paul Lee will join the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will compete in the FIBA Basketball World Cup starting on August 30. Philippine coach Chot Reyes made the announcement on Monday on his Twitter account. Blatche, who spent this past season with the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA before acquiring Filipino citizenship, will take the place of another naturalized player Marcus Douthit in the lineup.
wpid-i_5e_91_7e_andray_blatche.jpg
Jared Dillinger the defensive-minded Meralco off-guard will take the place of Fonacier in the team while Andray Blatche the Brooklyn Net in the National Basketball Association will be the Philippines’ naturalized player in Inchon South Korea. Blatche who can more or less offset Iranian center Hamed Haddadi in Korea was naturalized less than two months ago and has in fact been with the Philippine team for the last three weeks counting their rigorous two-week training stint in Miami.
Blatche is under contract with the Philippine national team for the 2014 FIBA World Cup and up until the 2014 Asian Games. Barring any unforeseen developments, Blatche should be a go in Spain, but his presence in Incheon may not be as guaranteed. (RELATED: Andray Blatche’s journey from New York to Gilas Pilipinas) It doesn’t really have anything to do with his not having an NBA team yet. Someone like him has a fair chance of landing a contract, especially if he performs well for Gilas.
Gilas Pilipinas had its first official practice session Saturday in Miami, the start of a rigorous two-week training camp in preparation for the FIBA World Cup in Spain set Aug. 30 to Sept. 14. The first practice session also marked the first time that NBA veteran Andray Blatche joined the national team. Blatche was granted naturalization, thus allowing him to play for the Philippines in various international tournaments. The 6-foot-11 Blatche, who recently played for the Brooklyn Nets, posted a photo of his No. 11 Pilipinas jersey on his Instagram account @draylive, saying: “Very thankful #puso.”
The National Basketball Association warned a touring group of its stars that they could face financial fines for participating in clinics in Manila, Philippines, that include short scrimmages and games of “H-O-R-S-E,” league sources told Yahoo Sports. Several NBA stars, including Blake Griffin, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard, were scheduled to participate in promotional appearances in Manila this week, and the NBA has told its Players Association that the event organizers failed to gain league approval, sources said.
wpid-i_1d_e7_47_demar_derozan.jpg
Toronto Raptors swingman DeMar DeRozan is set to visit Manila in July, as the special guest for this year’s edition of NBA 3X Philippines, the league announced Monday via press release. The program, now in its fourth year, “combines exciting 3×3 on-court competition with free authentic NBA entertainment and experiences for fans of all ages,” such as a slam dunk contest, hoops clinics, three-point contests, skills challenges, autograph sessions, plus performances by an NBA dance team and an NBA mascot.
wpid-i_5e_91_7e_andray_blatche.jpg
American Andray Blatche, the country’s prospect for naturalization, is set to arrive here Sunday morning, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes announced on Twitter. Blatche’s naturalization only needs the signature of the President to be completed. “He’s on the plane. Arriving tom, 10am. @drayblatche is coming to town!” Reyes, under the Twitter handle @coachot, posted on his account Saturday. Reyes also said that there is a chance the Brooklyn Nets center Blatche, tapped to give the Philippines a boost in the coming FIBA World Cup in Spain, will watch the game between the Air21 Express and the San Mig Coffee Mixers on Monday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.