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Angara files Senate bills to naturalize 2 imports

Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - February 8, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara has filed the counterpart bills of the Senate for the naturalization bids of American professional basketball players JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche.

Two separate bills were filed by Angara yesterday, Senate Bill 2107 for the naturalization of McGee, the 7-foot center of the Denver Nuggets, and Senate Bill 2108, for the 6-foot-11 Blatche, who plays power forward for the Brooklyn Nets. (Related story on A-22)

The country’s basketball officials have reportedly talked to both McGee and Blatche about the possibility of playing for the Smart Gilas Pilipinas national team and both are said to be willing to play for the country.

According to Angara, naturalization bills are considered as private in nature and as such must originate from the House of Representatives.

Deputy Speaker Robbie Puno has already filed the bills in the House.

“The intention is to create a pool. With the punishing season of these players, it’s better to have a pool that you can draw from as you need it. So that there’s a back up,” Angara said.

Smart Gilas Pilipinas already has one naturalized player in its roster, the 6’11” Marcus Douthit, but at age 33 and with recurring injuries, the team needs someone else available to take his place whenever needed.

McGee and Blatche could certainly fill up the requirements of the country because of their height as well as their youth.


McGee is 26 while Blatche is 28.

“I think they are fantastic choices. I just hope that we can get them away from their teams because like Brooklyn is experiencing a resurgence so I don’t know if they are willing to (give him up),” Angara said.

The Philippines qualified for this year’s FIBA World Cup, its first in 35 years after finishing second to Iran in the FIBA Asia tournament held last year.

It is not certain if either of the two would be able to suit up for the Gilas Pilipinas team for the FIBA World Cup, which would be held this Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain.

This would all depend on how fast their naturalization is processed and what happens with their respective NBA teams after the playoffs, which start on April.

Angara said that the naturalization of the two players is part of the long-term program of Philippine basketball.

McGee, the starting center of the Nuggets before he was injured, has been a fixture in Shaquille O’Neal’s “Shaqtin A Fool” segment on NBA TV, particularly for his regular in-game bloopers.

Angara, who is also an avid fan of the game, recognized the reputation of McGee and saw this as a positive thing for Philippine basketball.

“That will add to the entertainment value, not only the basketball values but the other entertainment values for the Filipinos,” he said.

ANDRAY BLATCHE ANGARA BROOKLYN NETS DENVER NUGGETS DEPUTY SPEAKER ROBBIE PUNO GILAS PILIPINAS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SENATE BILL SMART GILAS PILIPINAS WORLD CUP
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