Wednesday, September 10, 2014

SBP files final appeal to lift disqualification of Andray Blatche from Asian Games

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manuel V. Pangilinan on Monday made the country’s final appeal to allow naturalized star Andray Blatche to play in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea this September.

In a letter obtained by InterAksyon addressed to OCA president Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, Pangilinan wrote that Blatche’s disqualification is a case of “misunderstanding” of the relevant eligibility rules that should be applied in the Games.

“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. We have exerted our best efforts to persuade OCA about this “misunderstanding” of the eligibility rules for more than two months,” Pangilinan wrote.

“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.”

Pangilinan raised that world basketball governing body FIBA, which establishes eligibility of players in sanctioned competitions, has already deemed Blatche eligible to play for the Philippines after his stint in the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

Because of this, Pangilinan wrote the SBP takes a “clear and firm view” that in case a “misunderstanding” of rules happen between regional competitions and FIBA, the rules of the international federation, which is FIBA, should prevail and be followed.

The OCA, which organizes the Asian Games, requires naturalized players to have a residency of at least three years to the country they represent before suiting up for their respective teams. FIBA and the International Olympic Committee do not have such rule.

Blatche earned his Filipino citizenship through a special law signed by President Benigno Aquino III last June.

“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,” Pangilinan wrote.

On Monday, the SBP said that it is looking at sending naturalized Marcus Douthit instead, skipping the Asian Games altogether or bringing the case to international arbitration as possible options should its appeal gets rejected.


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