Manny V. Pangilinan appeals to OCA: Let Blatche suit up
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan has appealed to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to allow naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche to suit up for the Asian Games, which starts Sept. 19 in Incheon, South Korea.
In a letter to OCA president Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, Pangilinan cited the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) stand that Blatche is eligible for the Asiad since he represented the Philippines in the World Cup.
Fiba secretary general Patrick Baumann wrote the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee on Sept. 5 stating there was a “misunderstanding” and pointed out that Blatche should play in Asian Games since he is qualified for all Fiba-sanctioned tournaments.
“SBP takes the clear and firm view that in the event of a ‘misunderstanding’ between the eligibility rules of Fiba and those of regional competition, the international federation (IF) rules take precedence,” said Pangilinan.
Fiba is the IF for basketball, with Fiba Asia tasked to carry out the Fiba’s duties in the continent.
The Asian Games, however, is under OCA authority and Fiba Asia’s role in the event is running the technical aspect of the competition.
The OCA rejected the Fiba stand and stuck to the three-year residency rule on naturalized players.
“Fiba rules have no residency for a naturalized player, for so long as such player plays for only one national team,” said Pangilinan. “This axiom aims to harmonize eligibility rules globally, and to ensure that a level playing field is achieved for sports—free from rules which may prove detrimental to the principles of fairness and equity, and thus possibly harmful to a competing country or to its national team.”
Chef de mission and Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia will leave today for Incheon for the delegation registration meeting on Thursday, where the Philippines will make another appeal.
If Blatche won’t get cleared, Garcia will push for the eligibility of Marcus Douthit as replacement.
The SBP has threatened to boycott the Asiad because of the eligibility row.
“We earnestly seek the help and support and understanding of your goodselves, and allow Mr. Blatche—and our national team—to join the brotherhood of basketball in the Asian Games,” Pangilinan wrote to Sheik Ahmad.
“It is our sincere hope that this ‘misunderstanding’ would not lead the SBP to consider any alternative other than to participate, considering that the Games are due to start in less than two weeks,” he added.
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