MANILA, Philippines – Andray Blatche’s naturalization for the Philippines was a surprise to many, but for one of his former teammate in the Brooklyn Nets, the decision made sense from the get-go.
Brook Lopez played with Blatche in Brooklyn from 2012 to 2014, before Blatche was naturalized to play for Gilas Pilipinas and then moved to China where he now stars for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Even though their careers have moved in different directions, Lopez still keeps tabs on Blatche, and knows quite a bit about how his former teammate has been playing for the Philippines.
“I can’t say it was (a surprise), because I know how much he loves the game, and I know how much the Filipino people love the game as well,” Lopez told reporters on Monday, when asked if he was surprised to hear of Blatche’s naturalization. “So it was a natural partnership.”
“It’s great to see him as part of the Gilas team,” he added. ‘It’s a great thing – I love seeing him play for this country in that jersey.”
Blatche was in town two weeks ago, helping Gilas Pilipinas cruise to the gold medal in the 2017 SEABA Championship.
Though Lopez missed out on a reunion with his former teammate, he still has good memories from when he and Blatche used to play together.
“He is such an amazing talent,” Lopez gushed. “He made things easier for me when we were on the floor together, and he’s such a great, fun locker room guy.”
“He brings a lot of energy. We call him ‘Dray Live.’ That’s our guy, and he’s just a great person to be around,” he added.
Lopez is visiting the Philippines for the second time to promote the NBA’s partnership with global insurance company AXA Philippines.
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