Senate approves NBA veteran Andray Blatche's naturalization,setting up a FIBA World Cup stint with the Gilas Pilipinas


The Filipino die-hard basketball fans will finally have a chance to see and cheer for an NBA veteran wearing a Philippine jersey in the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Korea.


This will be made possible as the Senate approved on third and final reading a measure to confer Philippine citizenship on NBA player Andray Blatche.

This means that the Brooklyn Nets' back-up center would effectively suit up for the country in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in August and possibly the Asian Games in September in Korea.

“Blatche is possibly the best center from the NBA that we can get, who is willing to shun more lucrative offers now and in the future just to be part of our national team,” said Senator Sonny Angara, who authored the bill.

A counterpart measure authored by Antipolo City representative Robbie Puno was approved in the House of Representatives last March. 

However, the bills will still await the signature from President Benigno Aquino III to be passed into law effectively that would make Blatche a Filipino citizen.

“This was indeed a total team effort on the part of the Senate. Credits are due to both the majority and minority blocs for supporting this measure, which to my mind, is the Senate’s own way of contributing to the cause of our basketball team,” said Angara, who acknowledged the help of Senate Justice Committee chairman Koko Pimenel and Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano for the bill’s swift passage. 
Angara also mentioned Senate President Franklin Drilon and Senators Tito Sotto and Jinggoy Estrada for their instrumental roles in the passage of the measure.

Despite concerns about fielding in a naturalized player in the Philippines’ return to the world cup of basketball, Angara noted that the practice is prevalent in the international scene.

“Having naturalized players is the rule in international competitions rather than the exception. It’s very accepted. We are just taking advantage of the rule,” said Angara, who chairs the committee on games, amusement and sports.

Angara also pointed out that Marcus Douthit's stint for Gilas Pilipinas is agood example as what he has done for the national team.

Douthit is the country's top player since 2011, but it was not the only significant thing that he did as he has also embraced Filipino culture during his stint in the country.

“We took a leap of faith when we naturalized Marcus Douthit, and that leap of faith paid dividends. We are hoping this would be a similar case with Andray Blatche,” Angara said.

Angara added that the presence of Blatche would be a boon to national team members.

“Since our local players will be playing against bona fide professional NBA players, they will be forced to improve. It’s like we’re putting them in a competitive atmosphere. Great players make other players even better,” he said.

With this development, the Gilas Pilipinas will have a greater chances of earning at least a win and will be going head-to-head with world's best basketball countries.

--- with reports from Sports5.ph

Senate approves NBA veteran Andray Blatche's naturalization,setting up a FIBA World Cup stint with the Gilas Pilipinas Senate approves NBA veteran Andray Blatche's naturalization,setting up a FIBA World Cup stint with the Gilas Pilipinas Reviewed by Jay-R Bayon-on on 5/26/2014 Rating: 5

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