MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes brushed off speculations that Brooklyn Nets’ Andray Blatche might not be able to suit up for the national team in the upcoming Asian Games in Incheon due to a three-year residency requirement for naturalized players.
Reyes clarified that the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA) three-year residency rule does not cover Blatche, who was tapped to beef up the Gilas Pilipinas squad for the Asian Games and the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
“We checked it, it doesn't apply to us. We checked it out, we took a look at the rule book, we checked it out with the organizing committee, we're fine,” the coach assured.
Reyes clarified the issue after South Korea ditched its plan to include former US NCAA Aaron Haynes to its team roster due to the residency requirement.
"We belatedly learned that he cannot play for the national team even after naturalization," a Korea Basketball Association (KBA) official said in the Korea Times.
But Reyes said the rule covers a naturalized player who previously represented another country in an international competition.
Since Blatche has not represented the US in any FIBA-sanctioned tournament, he is exempted from the rule.
“I think it applies to a player who has previously represented a different country. Na kung magre-represent ka ng ibang bansa kelangan mag-establish ka ng three-year residency,” he said.
Blatche will serve as a vital cog in Gilas’ campaign in the 2014 Asian Games, which will take place in September 19 after the FIBA Worlds.
Blatche will be joining the team practices when the team heads to Miami for a week-long training starting July 25.
Gilas Pilipinas has already started tuning up for the Asian Games and the FIBA Worlds by participating in the ongoing FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.