Senate grants Blatche Filipino citizenship

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014


AMERICAN professional basketball player Andray Blatche will soon wear the Philippine jersey in the Fiba World Cup in Spain this August after the Senate backed a bill granting him citizenship on Monday.

House Bill 4084 got 20 affirmative votes as the measure will be sent to Malacañang for enactment by President Benigno Aquino III.

The House of Representatives earlier passed a counterpart bill.

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“Other countries, while ranking higher than the Philippines, have opted to take advantage of this naturalized-player rule, meant to equalize the world basketball landscape historically ruled by American and European countries, with great benefit,” said the bill's sponsor Senator Juan Edgardo Angara.

Blatche is not the first international player to become a naturalized Filipino citizen.

In 1985, three naturalized players, namely Dennis Still, Jeff Moore and Chip Engelland helped the RP-North Consolidated Corporation win the William Jones Cup and the ABC Championships.

Marcus Douthit, who became a naturalized Filipino in 2010, was instrumental in the country's third place finish in the 2010 William Jones Cup and 2012 William Jones Cup Championship.

Douthit also played in last year's Fiba Asia Championship in Manila, where the Philippines nipped old tormentor South Korea in the semifinals to book a ticket to the world stage following a 35-year wait.

The 28-year-old Blatche is currently playing for the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, and Paul Pierce.

Blatche, who stands 6’11,” averages 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Fresh out of high school, Blatche was drafted to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2005 where he was chosen 49th overall by the Washington Wizards.

He was eventually released by the Wizards in 2012 and was signed up by the Nets.

“Blatche has openly expressed his desire to play for the Philippines. He is in a position, at age 28, to make significant contributions to Philippine basketball and accordingly, eligible for the conferment of the honor of being a Philippine citizen,” Angara said.

Blatche will be part of the 24-man roster of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas where the final 12 players will be chosen to compete in the world championships. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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