But was it a must-win game? As far as second round games, maybe it was. But then again, losing that game would have merely meant a harder road to the finals, but not elimination from the tournament.
Those come later, when we move into the knockout stages. Will we then regret playing Andray Blatche in the third and fourth quarter of this game, rather than letting him rest his ankle so he can recover for the remaining games ahead?
Which also begs this question: do we tempt the fates tomorrow and play a limping Blatche against a physically superior, highly killed team like Iran…or do we play it safe, sit Blatche down, and accept the looming defeat to Iran? A loss to Iran wouldn’t be devastating either, as it’s say to say that they’ll beat Palestine and if we beat India (which we should do), we’ll still be in prime position to cop second place in our group.
Personally, I would rather that Blatche did not come back to play in the Japan game. Sure, it was nip and tuck but the boys were battling back, not letting Japan take over the lead, and I have a feeling they would have closed out Japan anyway. I do understand the logic of putting Blatche back, as a guarantee, but still, I felt that the quality of our Gilas players was more than enough to win over the Japanese.
As for tomorrow, if Andray Blatche is around 80%-90% in good physical condition, I’d have no problems with him playing. But if he’s going to be limping up and down the court, jumping on one foot and getting blocked by guys 2-3 inches short because he can’t plant his foot to jump, then I’d prefer he rest his foot.
We can take the loss now, have Andray back to better foot health and be in a better position to beat China or South Korea in the semifinals and get another shot at the Iranians. This time though, it will be with something more meaningful on the line: that ticket to Rio.
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