As many already knew, Andray Blatche is our main guy at Gilas Pilipinas. He became such once he accepted representing us in international competitions and to become a naturalized citizen of the Philippines. Here are more facts about him:
He was born Andray Maurice Blatche on August 22, 1986 in Syracuse, New York. He spent four years at Henninger High School in Syracuse and another year at the South Kent School in South Kent, Connecticut. He declared for the 2005 NBA draft straight out of high school and was taken by the Washington Wizards as the 49th overall pick in the second round.
He was dismal during his first two years in the NBA which includes a demotion to the NBA Developmental League for three weeks during his first year. His break came during the 2007-08 season. When Etan Thomas was declared out of the season for a heart condition, the Wizards deployed Blatche in all of the 82 games for an average of 20 minutes per game and he responded with a 7.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per game output.
From that point on, he continued to improve his game, eventually averaging around 13 pts, six rebounds and a steal in his next four years. The next season, Blatche, however, would hit a brick wall. On March 20, 2012, the Wizards announced that they were benching Blatche indefinitely due to lack of conditioning, and on July 16, he was waived through the amnesty clause. Blatche then became outspoken about the treatment he received from the Wizards stating they deliberately tried to ruin his career which was, of course denied by Head Coach Randy Wittman.
The Brooklyn Nets took a chance on him for the 2012-2013 season and resigned the season after that. Although his minutes remained at the 20 a game level, his production of around 10.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1 steal a game while shooting around 49% was encouraging a lot. At the start of the 2014-15 season, Blatche opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent and sadly, no NBA team came calling.
As such, on September 20, 2014, Blatche transferred his act with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. In March just this year, Blatche re-signed with the Flying Tigers for another three years at a reported amount of $7.5M.
To us, though, his time with the Wizards was the most crucial because it is here where he first heard about the Philippines.
JaVale Mcgee, his teammate then at Washington, visited in the Philippines and became the first subject of a possible naturalization to represent the country. Unfortunately, Mcgee was still sidelined due an earlier season-ending injury at the time the 2014 FIBA World Cup will be held.
And Andray signified by his intentions by saying then that he had Filipino blood, even when he really doesn’t. Just like that, the Philippines came calling. On May 26, 2014, the Philippine Senate approved a bill granting Blatche’s Filipino citizenship and was made official on June 11, 2014 when President President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10636, enabling him to experience and live the “Laban, Puso, Pilipinas” slogan. From the looks of it, here is here to stay for the long haul. Hopefully, with some international trophies and Olympics berth for the Philippines to go along with it.