Powerful Filipino senator to oppose Blatche citizenship

Claus Andersen

A powerful Philippines senator said Friday he remains concerned about the national team trying to recruit and naturalize Andray Blatche in time for the FIBA World Cup in Spain this summer.

Tempo, a Manila website, reports

Sen. Jose "Jinggoy" Estrada said granting citizenship for the sole purpose of playing for the Philippines "is such a flimsy excuse which would place the Senate in an embarrassing situation because it gives the impression that anyone who wishes to play may simply go to the Senate and acquire Philippine citizenship through legislation,’’ he said.

Estrada is a powerful member of the Senate which approve naturalization. His father is former president of the Philippines.Naturalized citizens could eventually go back to their native land and forget the Philippines, he added.

But a Blatche supporter offered a defense of the measure saying that the Nets player has expressed willingness to reside in the country during off season "and that he would be enjoying dual citizenship which is allowed in the country.’’

The bill to grant Blatche citizenship must be passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president before June 30, the date by which rosters are set for the World Championships. The games begin on August 30.  Of course, Blatche may be with the Nets then. He has said he'd opt out of his contract with the Nets.

Two other Nets will be playing this summer in international competition: Jorge Gutierrez will play for Mexico in the World Championships while Mirza Teletovic will play for Bosnia in the FIBA Europe qualifying round. Bosnia is hoping to qualify for FIBA European championship in 2015 and do well enough to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Bosnia's first game will be against Great Britain, which is coached by Joe Prunty, the Nets assistant. The Nets two Euro-Stash, Bojan Bogdanovic and Ilkan Karaman, are expected to play in the World Cup, Bogdanovic for Croatia, Karaman for Turkey.

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