The House of Representatives has granted Filipino citizenship to a National Basketball Association (NBA) player to boost the Smart Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the FIBA World Cup in August.
House Bill 4084, which was approved by 216 lawmakers with no opposition and abstention, grants citizenship to six-foot-11 Andray Blatche—an eight-year NBA veteran who plays starting center for the Brooklyn Nets—on third reading on Monday night.
The 28-year-old Blatche has averaged 9.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game in his eight years in the NBA.
HB 4084, authored by Deputy Speaker Robbie Puno of Antipolo, was approved on third reading just a week after it was approved on second reading.
FIBA allows a national team to sign up one naturalized player.
For the first time in 35 years, the Philippines will compete in the FIBA World Cup after placing second in the FIBA Asia Championships in Manila last August.
LLANESCA T. PANTI