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Senate grants Filipino citizenship to NBA center Andray Blatche

Andray Blatche (left) is hoping to become a Filipino citizen to be able to reinforce Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup. AP/File Photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Monday approved on third and final reading the bill granting Philippine citizenship to NBA player Andray Blatche.

Committee Report No. 27 on House Bill No. 4084, sponsored by Senator Sonny Angara was approved with 20 affirmative votes, zero negative votes and zero abstention.

"Andray Blatche has openly expressed his desire to play for the Philippines. He is in a position, at age 28, to make significant contributions to Philippine basketball and accordingly, eligible for the conferment of the honor of being a Philippine citizen," Angara said.

Blatche is currently playing for the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and Paul Pierce. Blatche, who stands 6'11," averages 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

He was drafted to the NBA in 2005 where he was chosen 49th overall by the Washington Wizards. He was eventually released by the Wizards in 2012 and was signed up by the Nets.

Blatche will be part of the 24-man roster of Gilas Pilipinas, the country's national basketball team, where the final 12 players will be chosen to compete in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) world championships this August in Spain.

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"Blatche is possibly the best center from the NBA that we can get who is willing to shun more lucrative offers now and in the future just to be part of our national team," stressed Angara, who said that the Brooklyn Nets big man's documents will now be transmitted to the Office of the President for the chief executive's signing.

Angara said the Philippines should sustain its recent rise in FIBA standings and is development in the international scene.

"International tournaments allow countries to be represented by naturalized players subject to certain conditions like the number of naturalized players in a team," Angara said.

"Other countries, while ranking higher than the Philippines, have opted to take advantage of this naturalized-player rule, meant to equalize the world basketball landscape historically ruled by American and European countries, with great benefit," Angara added.

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