Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche, who is not of Filipino descent, has until May 30th to file his Filipino passport for eligibility to play in the Asian Games in Incheon, occurring from September 19th to October 4th. The Filipino Senate is due to meet on Monday, May 26th to formally approve Blatche’s citizenship request, with approval considered a “formality”:
Reyes said Blatche’s choice of playing for the Philippines is unprecedented. “It’s not every day you get a legitimate NBA player to renounce his eligibility to play for any country except the Philippines in FIBA,” an SBP official said. “Andray isn’t in between leagues. He just finished playing for the Brooklyn Nets in the playoffs. Yet he’s committed to play for the Philippines and he’s excited to do it.”
Blatche himself told The Star in a meeting at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn last month that he’s looking forward to playing in Spain. He said he’s overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from Filipino fans around NBA arenas all over the US. His best friend Bryan Extra said playing for the Philippines is something they talk about every day. And his younger brother Tre said Blatche can do it all on the court for the Philippines.
Blatche would’ve liked to travel to the Philippines except that he is opting to become a free agent on June 30 and has been advised by his agent to stay in the US in case his presence is required during negotiations for a new contract. Blatche will visit the Philippines after Spain and before flying to Incheon for the Asian Games. Reyes said the plan is for Gilas to make a stop in Manila in between the World Cup and Asian Games so it’s exactly what Blatche has in mind.
Reyes said since Blatche lives in Miami during the offseason, Gilas will set up training camp in the Florida city after playing at the FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan, China, on July 11-19. The camp will introduce Blatche to his Gilas teammates, including Marcus Douthit. In the run-up to the World Cup, Blatche will play about 10 practice games with Gilas.
After a report earlier this week that major Filipino politician Jinggoy Estrada wanted to block Blatche’s appeal for citizenship, the politician recanted his dissent.
In doing so, Blatche will waive his eligibility to play for any other country, including the United States, in the FIBA World Cup.
The Nets held their annual preseason media day on September 31st, 2013 last season, and left immediately afterward for training camp Duke University. That means if Blatche returns to the Nets, their preseason schedules may clash.
Blatche, who is not Filipino, lost his American passport on the team’s playoff trips.
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