Tuesday, September 9, 2014

SBP exec says Asian Games stand about fighting for Philippines’ rights not just Andray Blatche

Despite receiving a decision from the Olympic Council of Asia essentially disallowing naturalized NBA player Andray Blatche from suiting up for the Philippine national men’s basketball team in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas vice chairman Ricky Vargas vowed that they were not giving up the fight just yet.

He said that the SBP is looking at three options – including sitting out the Asian Games – though they have yet to make an official decision.

“One is to play (Marcus) Douthit. We go to the Asian Games with Douthit. But that’s painful when you know some of your rights have been stepped on. Do we stand up for what we believe is right? The second is to forego the Asian Games. That’s an option, not send a team to the Asian Games,” 

Vargas said in a press conference.

“Third is to bring it to international arbitration, which is Switzerland, and fight for our rights. Whether bringing it there would disqualify us from sending our team to Asia or we’ll send out team but contest the ruling. Our lawyers will look at this but soon we will have to make that decision.”

Vargas said that the stand they are making is not about winning the gold medal with Blatche but about fighting for the country’s rights in international competition.

The OCA rule that requires naturalized players to establish three years of residency is one that is not used by either the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), which governs the sport.

“It’s more than winning the gold. It’s whether they are doing the right thing to us, whether they are doing the right thing by disallowing a player. Blatche is really an adjective. It could be any other player. Papayagan ba natin yun?” he said.

“Mabigat isipin eh. It’s not about Blatche, not about Douthit. It’s about our rights being trampled upon. It could be Jimmy Alapag, it could be (Gabe) Norwood, it could be (Jared Dillinger). We will do the same thing.”

He added that he believes that Gilas can still win the tournament with Douthit as the naturalized player.

“We always like to bring our best team. I think we do have a chance to win with Douthit but I think we have a better chance of winning the gold (with Blatche).”

But the stand the SBP will make will be about more than just the gold medal and they are looking simply to do what is best for the Philippines.

“It’s a tough journey ahead of us now that we have a chance to win the gold. We are not cheating. We’re doing the best for the country. We worked so hard to bring it to this level of basketball, of competition. And it pains us if we get into this unjust situation,” Vargas added.

Knowing (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manuel V. Pangilinan), he’s my boss. He will not allow this. So we will do what is best for the country and what is best for the Gilas program and what is best for what we’d already done.”


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