Senate Bill 2108, otherwise known as the bill to give Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche naturalized citizenship in the Philippines has passed its third reading in the Filipino senate, giving Blatche the right to play for the Filipino national team in the FIBA World Cup Games this summer. Blatche will waive his right to play for any other country, including his birth nation of the United States.
The bill, proposed by Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara earlier this year, still needs to be signed by the country’s president. But that should not impede Blatche from playing with the national squad:
“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 Angara in a statement.
The six-foot-11 Blatche plays a vital role for the Brooklyn Nets with a career average of 10.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and almost a block per game.
“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,” Angara said.
Granting the naturalization of Blatche is a big boost for Gilas Pilipinas, which is set to compete in the Fiba World Cup in Spain this August and the Asian Games in September.
“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.
Blatche will be the most talented player on the squad, fulfilling a lifelong dream to see Andray Blatche as the #1 option on a basketball team.