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Asian Games rules allow Blatche to play

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There appears to be nothing in the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) rules and regulations that would prevent naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche from playing for the Philippines in the Asian Games in South Korea or the FIBA World Cup in Spain later this year.

 

A review of OCA’s rule book made by The Bulletin showed that those who have played previously in the Olympic Games or other regional international tournaments sanctioned by FIBA for another country cannot play for any other country unless he has resided continuously in that country for a period of three years.

Since Blatche has not played for the US team, his country of birth and citizenship, in another FIBA-sanctioned event, the Brooklyn Nets star appears to be qualified to play for the Philippine team.

Blatche was granted citizenship last month thus making him eligible to have dual Philippine and US citizenship and qualified to play for Gilas Pilipinas.

There was initial fear that Blatche may not qualify after reports in a South Korea newspaper said the country has abandoned a plan to naturalize an American player to play for Korea when it appeared he will need a three-year residency.

OCA’s by-law to rule 49 states that: “A competitor who has represented one country in the Olympic Games, OCA GAMES, continental regional world championships recognized by the relevant IF, and who has changed their nationality or acquired a new nationality, shall not participate in the OCA GAMES to represent their new country until three years after such change or acquisition.”

When asked for comment yesterday, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said it has not received information on a possible disqualification for Blatche.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios said they have not received any information from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and even the international basketball federation (Fiba) questioning Blatche’s qualifications.

Said Barrios: “If he (Blatche) gets to play in the FIBA, why won’t he be allowed to play (in the Asian Games)?”

Barrios reasoned out that FIBA personnel will work the matches in the Asian Games scheduled Aug. 30 to Sept. 14.

The POC has included the name of Blatche in the roster of athletes for Incheon. So far, Barrios said the SBP hasn’t received any information saying Blatche is not eligible to play for the Asian Games.

Fiba is in charge of basketball that is played in the Olympics, world championships and in regional meets but the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has been given the authority by the International Olympic Committee to organize and handle its staging.

A report in the Korea Times newspaper last month said that plans to include 6-8 scoring machine Aaron Haynes, a long time import in the Korea Basketball League, was abandoned after being reminded about a four-year old OCA ruling about a three-year residency involving naturalized players.

Told about the OCA’s ruling, Barrios said he has “heard about it” but is not so sure if that rule will supersede the FIBA.

The Philippines is bidding to end a 52-year-old gold medal drought in Asian Games basketball and Blatche’s presence in Incheon is expected to make Gilas-Pilipinas a solid title contender for first place.

 

The gold medal favorites in Incheon include the host Koreans, many-time titleholder China and FIBA Asia kingpin Iran. Manila Bulletin

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