MANILA, Philippines – The House Justice Committee has approved the proposal to have NBA player Andray Blatche naturalized to boost Gilas Pilipinas' chances in the upcoming FIBA World Basketball Cup.
House Bill 3784, which was filed by Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno, made it through despite 1-BAP Party Rep. Silvestre Bello III’s move to oppose the proposal.
According to Jon Ibanez’s report to dzMM, Bello wants the Brooklyn Nets’ center to appear before the committee to make sure the player is sincere in his intent to represent the Philippines.
However, Ako-Bicol Party Rep. Rodel Batocabe stressed that they are pressed for time since the tournament will take place in Spain from August to September.
He said the bill is set for second reading before Congress goes on recess by March 15.
Blatche stands 6-foot-11 and has been playing in the NBA since 2005.
Meanwhile, the Gilas Pilipinas players have begun their weekly practices for the FIBA Worlds.
National team coach Chot Reyes has included Greg Slaughter, Paul Lee, Jared Dillinger and Marcio Lassiter to the original 13-man pool composed of La Tenorio, Jimmy Alapag, Jason Castro, Gary David, Larry Fonacier, Ranidel de Ocampo, Mark Pingris, Japeth Aguilar, Junemar Fajardo, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Beau Belga and naturalized citizen Marcus Douthit.
From the pool, Reyes will choose the final lineup which will be fielded to the World Cup.
“This is the final pool. We don't have enough time as it is for the pool so it will be very hard to change it. This is the pool for the FIBA World Cup and the Asian Games. We don't know who's going to play where. But if people are going to miss practice, then we'll have to drop them. If you miss one or two practices then you're out of the team. They are aware of that,” said Reyes. – With a report from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News