Saturday, September 6, 2014

FIBA HAS SPOKEN: Andray Blatche should be eligible for Asian Games

World basketball governing body FIBA has thrown its support behind the Philippine national men’s basketball team regarding the eligibility of naturalized center Andray Blatche for the Asian Games in South Korea this September.

Blatche has been disqualified from the Asian Games after organizers demanded proof of the NBA center’s residency of at least three years in the Philippines. He was granted Filipino citizenship under a special law signed by President Benigno Aquino last June.

In a letter obtained by addressed to the Asian Games Organizing Committee, FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann said that Blatche should be allowed to suit up for the Philippines.

“We have been informed that you are in charge of entering and accrediting the various athletes for the upcoming Asian Games in Incheon and have just been informed that you have delisted from Entry one of the basketball athletes for the Philippine delegation,” Baumann wrote.

“We would like to inform you that the International Basketball Federation establishes the eligibility criteria for all basketball athletes worldwide for the purpose of their participation in national team competitions in official basketball competitions organized or sanctioned by FIBA.

“The player that you have prohibited Entry plays 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. It is quite confusing to hear that he is now not allowed to compete for the same team just a few weeks later.”

Baumann added that FIBA establishes the eligibility for players who represent their respective national teams, and that rule should be followed in all international competitions, including the Asian Games.

“You may not know, but – probably similar to other sports – FIBA’s eligibility rules apply, as an example, for all FIBA World Championships and for the Olympic Games. Also as an example, during an event like the Asian Games, FIBA’s International Referees officiate the Games and apply the Official Basketball Rules as edited by FIBA.

“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. 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.”

Apart from Blatche, Asian Games organizers are also questioning the eligibility of Gilas Pilipinas wingmen Gabe Norwood and Jared Dillinger.

After its return to the World Cup after 40 years, the Philippines is looking to end its 16-year medal drought in the basketball competition of the Asian Games.


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