House approves Blatche’s naturalization on final reading

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Monday, March 10, 2014


THE House of Representatives on Monday approved on third and final reading House Bill 3784, which grants Filipino citizenship to Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche.

Two hundred sixteen lawmakers voted for the naturalization of the six-foot-11 Blatche, who is a nine-year veteran in the National Basketball Association (NBA), to boost the preparation of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas for the upcoming basketball world cup in Spain this coming August.

The 27-year old NBA big-man is currently ranked 13th in the NBA in terms of player efficiency rating (21.9) and in offensive rebounding percentage (12.2 RPG).

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FIBA, the overall governing body of basketball worldwide allows each participating country to field one naturalized player in the competition and the country's national pool backed by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan has until June 30 to submit the national team's final official roster of players.

The Gilas-Pilipinas management meanwhile is still waiting for a counterpart version of the bill in the Senate.

On the other hand, a lawmaker urged the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) to revoke the playing license given to Barangay Ginebra six-foot-11 rookie Greg Slaughter and San Miguel Beermen rising star Marcio Lassiter for declining to join the national team despite being invited by the team's management and coaching staff.

Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said Slaughter and Lassiter "should be reminded that professional basketball is subject to regulation by the state and disservice to the country would be a valid ground for the government not to issue a license to them to play in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association)."

"The Games and Amusement Board should not issue license to play for those PBA players who were selected to play for the Philippine team but refused to join and play, invoking flimsy reasons," Barzaga said

The Caviteño legislator chided the two professional cagers for "conveniently forgetting" that carrying the Philippine colors in the international championship is a service to the Philippines.

House committee on youth and sports chairman Ben Evardone reminded PBA players that representing the country or even just being part of the training pool for the FIBA World Championships in Spain should be considered a duty to their country.

"They (Slaughter and Lassiter) should think of the highest interest of our country," said Evardone.

Kabataan party-list Representative Teri Ridon also backed the statements of the two senior legislators adding that "representing the country in international sports events is a national duty."

Slaughter and Lassiter were tapped for this year's FIBA World Cup and Asian Games in South Korea, together with Rain or Shines' Paul Lee and Beau Belga and Meralco star-guard Jared Dillinger but the two declined the invitation given by Gilas-Pilipinas Coach Chot Reyes, after both stating that they didn’t want distract the present team chemistry.

Both Slaughter and Lassiter were part of the first Gilas-Pilipinas team in 2009 under the tutelage of Serbian coach Rajko Toroman. (Sunnex)

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