Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche has been officially granted Filipino citizenship, according to Sportando.com.
He is now cleared to represent the Philippines in international competition, including the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Having President Benigno Aquino III sign Republic Act 10636 so that Blatche could obtain his citizenship was the last step in a due process that included members of the country’s senate approving his bill several weeks ago.
“Andray Blatche has openly expressed his desire to play for the Philippines,” Filipino Senator Sonny Angara said about the case, via FIBA.com. “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.
In 73 games for the Nets last season, Blatche averaged an admirable 11.2 points on 47.6 percent shooting from the field, including 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 22.2 minutes off the bench.
FIBA allows for one naturalized player to compete per team per tournament. While he has Filipino blood in his veins, Blatche was in fact born in Syracuse, NY.
The Philippines will be joined by Argentina, Croatia, Greece, Puerto Rico and Senegal in Group B at the World Cup. The tournament will commence in late August and run through the month of September.
There will be no rest for the weary as Blatche will once again compete for his country in the Asian Games in South Korea in September as well.
“The sport of basketball is huge here,” Blatche told reporters at a news conference Tuesday, via The Washington Post. “It’s in the heart of every Filipino and I love basketball, and so it’s like we have that similarity.”