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After Filipino fans protest, senator backs down and will support Andray Blatche citizenship

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Andray Blatche may or may not be a Net in August --he said he would opt out of his contract-- but it looks increasingly like the 6'11" Syracuse native will be a member of the Philippines National Team at the FIBA World Championships in Spain.

Two days ago, a powerful Filipino senator, the son of an ex-President, expressed reservations about granting Blatche citizenship and other opponents skeptical of Blatche's intentions suggested he come to the Philippines while the debate continued in the Senate.  Then, there was an outcry by Filipino fans and everyone seems to be backing down.

"Let me put on record that I am not blocking the measure granting Filipino citizenship to Mr. Andray Blatche. That is not my purpose when I stood in this august hall," said Sen Jingjoy Estrada in story ran by Yahoo Philippines on Monday.

"When I posed certain questions regarding the bill granting Mr. Blatche Filipino citizenship, it was not for the purpose of preventing him to eventually play for the Philippine Team in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. As a basketball aficionado myself, I want to see our national team succeed and become world champions," Estrada explained.

The bill is now halfway through the legislative process and should be on the Philippines president's desk by Monday, according to one supporter. She must approve it within 30 days. Deadline for FIBA rosters is June 30.

Blatche, who lost his passport after the Toronto series, told NBA Philippines he is excited about playing for the Gilas, as the national team is known. ""Oh yeah, for sure, man. I was very, very excited when I heard about the (naturalization) opportunity. I said 'you know, that sounds cool.'"

To further accommodate Blatche, the national team will practice in Miami, his off-season home.