Andray Blatche should be eligible for Asian Games, says FIBA
MANILA, Philippines – Naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche should be eligible to play in the coming Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea this September 19, as far as FIBA is concerned.
FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann asked the Incheon Asian Games Olympic Committee (IAGOC) to “review” its decision on barring Blatche to be part of the Philippine men’s national basketball team eyeing its first Asiad gold in basketball since 1962.
Just recently, IAGOC disqualified the NBA free agent Blatche for the Asian Games, citing that a naturalized player has to follow a three-year residency rule to be cleared to play.
FIBA, though, insisted that the same eligibility rules apply with the Asian tilt, a FIBA-sanctioned tournament and Blatche, who just helped Gilas Pilipinas capture its first win in the Basketball World Cup in 40 years, won’t have to comply with this residency rule.
“The player that you have prohibited entry is registered in FIBA’s eligibility system as a player for the Philippines and has, in fact, just played several games this past week at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain for that country,” FIBA said in a letter addressed to IAGOC secretary general Kwon Kyungsang, director general Jo Youngha and director Mun Hosung. “It is quite confusing to hear that he is not allowed to compete for the same team just a few weeks later.”
“You may not know, but — probably similar to other sports — FIBA’s eligibility rules apply, as an example, for all FIBA’s World Championships and for the Olympic Games,” the letter read.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche, whose naturalization was finalized last June, averaged 21.2 points and 13.8 rebounds per game while playing all five games for the Philippines in the preliminary round of the World Cup.
The Philippines, coming off a heartbreaking yet fulfilling World Cup stint, made itself a legitimate contender to get the gold especially with Blatche proving to be a good fit right away.
But with Blatche out and Gilas Pilipinas, which is grouped with FIBA Asia champion Iran, dealing with hurting players, bagging the gold got a lot tougher.
“I am sure therefore that there must be a misunderstanding and I would kindly request that you review your decision and apply FIBA’s regulations on eligibility for all teams participating in the basketball tournaments at the Asian Games and re-enlist the Filipino player,” the letter wrote. “This would certainly be fair for the athlete concerned and his country. Equally, if the same set of eligibility rules, namely that of the International Federation, is being applied to all international basketball events for national teams across the world, it ensures clarity for the media and the fans alike and credibility for the sport.”
Chinese Taipei’s Quincy Davis was also thumbed down.
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