The Senate on Monday passed on third and final reading a bill granting Filipino citizenship to Andray Blatche, a seasoned NBA player being eyed to boost the Gilas Pilipinas chances in the 2014 World FIBA championship in Spain in August this year.
Voting 20-0 with no abstention, the Senate approved Committee Report No. 27 on House Bill No. 4084, ahead of the July deadline set by FIBA for countries qualified in the prestigious tournament to submit respective 12-man lineup.
Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano thanked Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, sponsor of the bill and author of counterpart Senate Bill 2108, and Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada who initially questioned the sincerity of Blatche in applying for Philippine citizenship.
Angara explained that Blatche has issued an affidavit expressing his sincere desire to play for the Philippines not only in FIBA World championship but other future international tournaments.
Blatche, a 27, is averaging 11.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals in a little over 22 minutes a game for the Brooklyn Nets this season.
He was drafted to the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 2005 where he was chosen 49th overall by the Washington Wizards.
He was eventually released by the Wizards in 2012 and was signed up by the Nets.
“Andray Blatche has openly expressed his desire to play for the Philippines. He is in a position, at age 28, to make significant contributions to Philippine basketball and accordingly, eligible for the conferment of the honor of being a Philippine citizen,” Angara said.