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Team ‘pinas balik sa world cup

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IPINAMALAS ni Andray Blatche ang “game of my life” matapos pamunuan ang Team Pilipinas sa 93-75 pagbigo sa Kazakhstan Lunes ng madaling-araw sa huli nitong laro sa FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers at sungkitin ang silya sa FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 sa China ngayong Agosto.

“We didn’t have Andray Blatche in Manila. I think that was one big factor, but he carried us on his shoulders tonight,” sabi ni Pilipinas head coach Joseller “Yeng” Guiao.

Apat na sunod na tres sa kanyang kabuuang lima ang agad na pinakawalan ng 6-ft-11 na si Blatche sa first quarter tungo sa 41 puntos, 13 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 blocks.

“Andray was on fire,” sabi pa ni Guiao. “I was kinda worried that the guys were going to over-rely on him, but in the second half, the rest of the guys stepped up.”

Agad na umarangka ang host na Kazakhs sa 5-0 bomba bago tila apoy na sumiklab si Blatche sa paghulog nito ng apat na sunod na tres upang ipalasap ang unang kalamangan sa Pilipinas sa paghulog nito ng kabu­uang 17 puntos lamang sa unang yugto.

“He just took over the game and that’s what he did for us,” sabi ni Guiao. “If it weren’t for Andray, (we) would have been behind by 15 points, and it could have been very hard for us to come back.”

Ipinakita din ni Blatche ang matinding determinasyon para sa Team Pilipinas sa paghugot sa rebounds, pagkuha sa steals at pagbibigay ng krusyal na assists. Ipinadama din ng dating Brooklyn Nets player ang matinding motibasyon upang bitbitin ang mga kasamahan patungo sa pagsungkit sa silya sa World Cup.

“It was a very emotional game for us. We knew what’s at stake for us. It’s either we win or go home,” sabi ni Blatche, na pinuri rin ang kakamping si five-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo na tumulong sa second half matapos siyang ma-foul trouble.

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