PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia admitted he is not optimistic Andray Blatche will be able to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2014 Asian Games as the eligibility issue concerning him has yet to be resolved.
Garcia said he is preparing for the worst case scenario as the Philippines plans to appeal Blatche’s case to the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (Iagoc) on September 11 in the delegation registration meeting.
“Not very optimistic. Pero definitely, we will give it a try,” said Garcia, who is also the country’s chief of mission to the Asian Games.
Blatche’s eligibility was put into question, with Iagoc citing the three-year residency rule of the Olympic Council of Asia for naturalized athletes and asking for more documents to support the big man's residency in the Philippines.
Blatche was declared a naturalized citizen by the Philippine government only earlier this year.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has submitted its position paper on the issue, saying Blatche is not covered by the three-year residency rule and that the rules of the international federation, in this case Fiba, will be followed.
Even though he is pessimistic, the PSC chairman said there is a reason for the Fiba technical rule to stand, citing the case of Filipino-German netter Katharina Lenhert whose eligibility, like Blatche, is also in question by the Iagoc.
According to Garcia, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has recently declared that Lenhert should play in the Asian Games as she has represented the Philippines in tournaments sanctioned by the federation, that includes the Asian Games.
Judging from Lenhert’s case, Blatche should also be allowed to play in the Asian Games.
“Tennis had made a stand. ITF said they (Iagoc) has to follow their rules, not the OCA. If that should be that case, Fiba should also put pressure that we should have one rule because in the Olympics, they follow the Fiba rules,” said Garcia.
“OCA is in charge of the general rule while Fiba is in charge of the technical rule. Blatche’s case falls under technicality,” Garcia said.
The eligibility of Gabe Norwood and Jared Dillinger was also questioned by Iagoc but they are expected to pass the three-year residency criteria since they have been in the country for many years.
Gilas Pilipinas is currently in Spain for the Fiba World Cup.