MANILA – Senator Sonny Angara on Monday said the naturalization of Brooklyn Nets center/forward Andray Blatche will help local Filipino big men become better basketball players.
The Senate on Monday approved on the third and final reading Senate Bill 2108, which will confer Filipino citizenship on Blatche, thereby clearing the way for him to join the Philippine national basketball team in the FIBA World Cup in Spain this August.
In an interview on ANC's "Top Story," Angara – who introduced the bill to the Senate – detailed how Blatche will be able to help Gilas Pilipinas in the world championships.
"Well, he gives us a certain height up front, and we don't really have that," said Angara. "Marcus (Douthit) is about 6-foot-9, 6-foot-10, and Blatche is a little taller."
Moreover, Blatche has a wealth of experience in playing against the best in the world.
"He has that experience of playing against some of the best centers in the NBA, because he came off the bench for the Nets this season," Angara said. “He gives you that experience.”
"Like (Gilas Pilipinas) Coach Chot Reyes said, our local big men, just by playing with Marcus Douthit, they got better. They became tougher, more experienced," he added.
Blatche will hopefully do the same, said the senator.
"Andray Blatche will not only bring his personal contributions, but he will also make our locals better players," Angara said.
If and when President Aquino signs Blatche’s naturalization into law, the Philippine team will then have two naturalized players – Blatche and Douthit, who helped Gilas Pilipinas finish second in last year’s FIBA Asia Championship.
But Angara assures that this does not mean that they are planning to naturalize more foreign players; in any case, FIBA rules only allow for one naturalized player per team.
"I think between these two (Blatche and Douthit), we have a good choice on whom to field in Spain," he said.
Blatche will be part of the 24-men roster for Gilas Pilipinas, with 12 players eventually being chosen to represent the country in the FIBA World Cup, which takes place in Spain from August 30 to September 14.