MANILA – Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes has assured the House of Representatives that Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche is committed to represent the Philippines in the coming FIBA World Basketball Cup.
Reyes stressed before the House Justice Committee Blatche’s intent to become a naturalized Filipino and become part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that will compete in the FIBA Worlds.
“I spoke with Andray during the recent NBA break and only yesterday, I was on the phone with his agent,” said Reyes as quoted by Joaquin Henson’s Philippine Star report, while discussing House Bill No. 3783, which calls for the naturalization of the NBA player.
“Andray can be here as early as June 15. He’s ready to forego his [NBA] offseason rest. It’s almost impossible to find an NBA player averaging 12 points a game willing to become a Filipino and play for our country,” he added.
House Bill No. 3783 was authored by Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno, who believes the NBA player will give the Philippine national basketball team a boost against their competitors in the world tournament.
Despite 1-BAP Party Rep. Silvestre Bello III’s move to oppose the proposal, the House Justice Committee has approved the bill provided that Blatche will send a letter indicating his desire to become a naturalized Filipino.
Blatche was unable to attend the hearing due to the ongoing NBA season.
Puno emphasized that naturalization has become “the new paradigm of international basketball.”
“We are ranked 34th and yet we have entered the World Cup as one of the top 24 teams of the world. Let us continue this trend of over-achievement by not squandering the opportunity we have worked so hard to get. Let’s give our all and do all we can to field the strongest team possible within the rules allowed by FIBA,” the congressman said in a Philboxing report by Ronnie Nathanielsz.