Andray Blatche to delay Philippines national team return

MANILA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Former NBA and CBA player Andray Blatche's return to the Philippines squad for the 2019 FIBA World Cup buildup will be delayed as he deals with personal issues back in the U.S.

Blatche has to attend a court hearing for custody of his child, pushing his return date back from July 8 to July 12 or 13, Philippines national team head coach Yeng Guiao said on Thursday night.

"According to our contacts, agents in America, Andray has a court hearing for the custody case of his child," said Guiao, adding that the 32-year-old will attend to that before flying to the Philippines.

"I would have wanted for him to be coming in earlier, but of course, this is a big personal matter for him. He has to go to the court hearing," he said.

Blatche, who is expected to be named in the Philippines' final roster for the FIBA World Cup, represented the country in five out of six windows in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers, with his only absence due to a three-game suspension imposed following a brawl in a match against Australia last year.

Guiao stressed that Blatche's delayed return will not disrupt his side's flow and chemistry once he comes in.

"I think it's not going to affect our preparations that much. We will also try to put in additional practice days when he comes in, so we'll make up for the few days that Andray spends arriving in the Philippines," he said.

Nevertheless, Blatche will be Guiao's "No. 15 guy" in the squad, according to the national team mentor.

"As soon as Andray comes in, we already have 13 or 14 [national team players] in the final list, so he'll be the No. 15. That would be the team we'll work with," said Guiao.

In preparation for the FIBA World Cup, which will be held in China from August 31 to September 15, the Philippines will leave for Spain in August to play a series of warm-up games, before their first World Cup match against Italy on August 31, followed by Serbia on September 2 and Angola on September 4.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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