MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is speeding up the naturalization process of National Basketball Association (NBA) player Andray Blatche to have him join the Gilas Pilipinas basketball squad in time for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in August.
The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights has already approved Senate Bill 2108 that aims to grant Filipino citizenship to the 6-foot-11 center of the Brooklyn Nets.
According to Ruby Tayag’s report to dzMM, the Senate committee found no objection opposing the naturalization process. The bill was filed by Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara.
Sen. Koko Pimentel, however, said Blatche will still need to submit a letter to the committee proving his intent to become a Filipino citizen.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said Blatche is prepared to submit the required affidavit.
Gilas Pilipinas will have to submit its 24-man lineup before the FIBA World’s June 30 deadline.
Meanwhile, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny Pangilinan said he is grateful that the Senate is expediting the process.
“We are grateful to the Congress and the Senate for giving it an expedite treatment. Let’s see how it turns out tomorrow (Tuesday) but we really appreciate the effort and consideration that they would give to Blatche,” he said in a report in the Philstar.com.
If Blatche gets naturalized, he will join Gilas in the FIBA Worlds and the Asian Games in Korea.
Marcus Douthit, who led Gilas Pilipinas to a second-place finish in the FIBA Asia Championship, will be put on reserve.
“Ang kasunduan is [to play Blatche] in Spain and Korea. We will retain Marcus Douthit as a reserve. We owe him a lot for being with the Gilas team for such a long time,” Pangilinan said.