With renewed focus, Blatche now OQT-ready

Andray Blatche did the ceremonial toss for the La Salle-Letran game. Ivan Saldajeno
By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--Last year, a heavier Andray Blatche showed up for Gilas' FIBA Asia Championship campaign and its preceding buildup.

Looking to get him quickly to the needed match fitness and even trim his weight down, Coach Tab Baldwin advised Blatche to consume only soup and salad during training, which the latter surprisingly followed only to backfire a bit.

"Last year, I was going through difficult times. I kinda put basketball on a hold due to my mom [being] ill. I just wasn't well-prepared," the star Xinjiang Tiger revealed to a group of sportswriters on Sunday night at the FilOil Flying V Centre why he came to the FIBA Asia preparations not in 100 percent fitness-wise.

Last month, however, a viral photo of PBA commentator Quinito Henson saw Blatche being somewhat in tip-top shape even before he trooped back to the Philippines to join the training sessions.

"This year, my mom is so much more better, and I have more time to focus on basketball," he bared on why he looks like his 2014 FIBA World Cup self again.

Blatche was the special guest in the final day of the elimination round of the FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup, even doing the ceremonial toss in the La Salle-Letran game.

Even Baldwin was amazed to see Blatche in  good fitness upon his arrival.

"He's in pretty good shape," the national team gaffer said in a separate interview following one practice at the Meralco Gym in Pasig last week.

Baldwin, on the other hand, believes Blatche is already looking forward to the FIBA OQT due to him intensifying the trainings, something Blatche agreed upon.

"I feel like I gotta increase the intensity and be a lot more vocal," Blatche said, signifying his preparedness for the said tourney.

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