Blatche to face off against compatriots Chooks-To-Go in knockout affair
CHENZHOU (FIBA Asia Champions Cup 2017) - After losing to Petrochimi on Day 5, what awaits Chooks-To-Go in the Quarter-Finals is a familiar face and a strange nemesis one and the same.
National team head coach Chot Reyes will, for the first time ever, have to face off against the man who has arguably been the biggest reason for the Philippines' rise in stature on the world stage, Andray Blatche. The 2.11m former NBA center and naturalized Filipino will be donning the kits of reigning CBA champions China Kashgar in the win-or-go-home tiff today opposite the hastily-formed Chooks-To-Go squad from Manila.
It will just be Blatche's second game of the tournament as he only recently flew in from the US, and judging from his stint against Al Riyadi on the final day of the group phase, he has still yet to reach ideal physical shape and still yet to establish seamless chemistry with all of his teammates.
It will certainly be interesting - if not awkward - to see Blatche go at it against his fellow Filipinos, but coach Chot is actually looking forward to it. It is a possibility he and the rest of the team were prepared for heading into Chenzhou, and their mindset is to win the game no matter what it takes.
"That will be fun," coach Chot told Philippine media company ABS-CBN in an interview. "That will be interesting."
He knows that this China Kashgar team have yet to hit their stride in the competition, and having Andray around boosts the hosts' chances of advancing into the next stage.
"Obviously, they are a much, much better team with Andray with them," said Reyes. "They already have a great import (Darius Adams), great shooters and they have the size to match-up with Isaiah Austin."
Coach Chot, however, believes his team can pull off an upset as long as their main guys - Austin, Kiefer Ravena and Carl Cruz - can make an impact.
"We had a good shooting game the other day against Mono Vampire," added Reyes. "We had a bad shooting game against Iran. Hopefully, we bounce back with a good shooting game against China."