Philippines president signs Andray Blatche bill, making him a citizen

Chot Reyes/Twitter

The Nets have a new international player on their roster. On Wednesday, Philippines president Benigno Aquino III signed the bill granting Andray Blatche Filipino citizenship, permitting him to play for the Asian island nation in the FIBA World Cup later this summer.  Blatche will retain his U.S. citizenship.

Chot Reyes, the Philippines national team coach, broke the news.

Senator Edgardo Angara, the main author of the law, says Filipinos are a "sports-loving nation with a distinct affection for basketball." He says the 6-foot-11 Blatche, a power forward and center, can make "significant contributions to Philippines basketball."

The bill had passed the Philippines house and senate last month and had been on the president's desk since May 26. The president had 30 days to sign it at which point it would have become law anyway. However, FIBA requires certain paperwork be filed before the June 30 roster deadline, 60 days before the world championships begin in Spain.

The Philippines are in Group B at the World Cup, along with Argentina, Croatia, Greece, Puerto Rico and Senegal. The tournament will be held in Spain in late August through early September.  In the very first game of the competition, scheduled for August 30, the Philippines will face Croatia, whose top player is Nets draft pick Bojan Bogdanovic.

After the World Cup, Blatche may again play for the Philippines team at the Asian Games in South Korea in September. However, the end of that tournament conflicts with the opening of NBA training camp.

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