It’s Official: Aquino signs Blatche Filipino citizenship papers

Ryan Songalia

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It’s Official: Aquino signs Blatche Filipino citizenship papers
President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10636 granting Filipino citizenship to Andray Blatche, the 6-foot-11 basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets

MANILA, Philippines – You can call him Kuya Andray now.

President Benigno Aquino III signed Republic Act 10636 granting Filipino citizenship to Andray Blatche, the 6-foot-11 basketball player for the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets. 

“We confirm that the President signed Republic Act 10636 granting Filipino citizenship to Mr. Blatche,” said presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda in a media release on Wednesday, June 11.

Blatche, 27, of Syracuse, NY, is now eligible to play for the Gilas Pilipinas national basketball team in the FIBA World Cup, which begins August 30 in Spain.  

During an impromptu press conference Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum, Blatche summarized what he brings to the table in one word: “Height.” He left Tuesday night after a 3-day visit. 

“I’m just gonna play my game. I’ll come out and be an offensive threat, energy, run the floor, protect the paint, create shots for my teammates. I hear we got amazing shooters on our team,” he said.

(RELATED: Andray Blatche: ‘I am Filipino now so I will do my best to help my team’)

Blatche is the first Filipino citizen to be an active player on an NBA roster but isn’t the first American player to be naturalized for the national team. Marcus Douthit, who ironically hails from the the upstate New York city of Syracuse as well, arrived in the Philippines in 2010 and soon after attained citizenship and has played a vital role in the team’s rise on the international stage.

FIBA rules allow for a country to accept just one naturalized player. Although Douthit has practiced with Gilas once the team reconvened in April, he says he is willing to step aside if that is what is best for the team.

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“That’s how everything goes in life. You can only be at the top for so long. Anything that makes the program better, I’m all for it,” Douthit told Rappler.

Blatche was drafted by the Washington Wizards out of high school in 2005 and has averaged 10.1 and 5.4 rebounds a game in 564 career appearances according to ESPN. com. In the 2013-14 season Blatche averaged 11.2 points in 22.2 minutes off the bench, – Rappler.com

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