Chot Reyes comes to defense of criticized Andray Blatche
MANILA, Philippines – People can say anything they want about Andray Blatche but Chot Reyes made it clear he and all of Gilas Pilipinas have the former's back.
Blatche had been criticized for a relatively bland performance in Gilas' 68-84 loss to Australia last February 22. The former NBA player finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds, an assist and a block, numbers that do not meet people's expectations of a naturalized player.
However, Reyes said Blatche's value for the Philippine team goes deeper than what the stats sheet reveals.
"His value has always been beyond numbers and I know he got a lot of flak for the last game, he scored 8 points, 7 rebounds. But his job was to guard (Daniel) Kickert, Australia's best player averaging close to 20, 70 percent from the 3-point line," said Reyes.
During the first window, Kickert normed 18.5 points, 5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and shot 77.7% from deep. Against Gilas, those numbers dropped to 5 points, 4 rebounds, two assists against two turnovers.
"So those of you who understand basketball, you will see that it's not points only. There's a lot of value."
Three days later, Blatche showed his value statistically. He registered team-highs of 18 points and 16 rebounds on top of 4 rebounds, two steals against 5 turnovers in Gilas' 89-84 win over Japan Sunday, February 25.
"I'm telling everybody, we're taking a look at everything but Andray is our guy," said Reyes.
"You can ask Kiefer, I don't think playing a team like Australia, if we didn't have Andray, we would have lost by 30, 30 points, easily. You can quote me on that."
Australia averaged 54.5% from the field and 45.4% from long range before meeting Gilas. Philippines shaved those numbers to 41.3% from the field and 33% from 3-point range despite the loss.
"Andray makes us competitive, regardless of the what the numbers or the stats show."
Gilas, which is already assured of a spot in the second round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, will return to action when they face Chinese Taipei on June 29 before hosting Australia on July 2. – Rappler.com