THE eligibility of Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Andray Blatche, Gabe Norwood, and Jared Dillinger for the 2014 Asian Games have been put under question before the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (Iagoc).
The Philippine Olympic Committee received a letter on Tuesday from the Iagoc asking for more proof on the eligibility of Blatche, Norwood, and Dilliger to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the coming Asian Games in Incheon, Korea, according to a high-ranking official who refused to be named.
Iagoc has inquired about the Gilas trio's residency, the high-ranking official said, in the Philippines since the passports given to the organizing committee by the three players were all new.
The high-ranking official, however, is confident that Norwood and Dillinger will be cleared as they have been residing in the country and playing in the PBA for many years.
The question now is with Blatche, who was recently naturalized by the government in order to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon.
The residency inquiry is a bad omen for Gilas' plan to suit up Blatche in Incheon.
For weeks now, speculation has grown over the eligibility of Blatche owing to an OCA rule requiring naturalized players to have resided in the country they are representing for at least three years.
The fact that Asiad organizers are inquiring about residency is an ominous sign that they are bent on implementing the residency rule that will disqualify Blatche from the Games.
However, Philippine sports officials have insisted that such rule applied only to naturalized players who have previously represented another country in overseas competition.
If organizers insist on the OCA residency requirement, Blatche will not be eligible for Gilas since the former Brooklyn Net, unlike fellow Gilas naturalized player Marcus Douthit, has never resided in the Philippines.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes has included Blatche in his Asiad lineup and, if he is ruled ineligible, there are doubts if Douthit will be allowed to play in his place.
According to Philippine Olympic Committee officials, the deadline for the submission of final lineups for the Asiad lapsed last August 15 and any changes will only be allowed in cases where 'injuries and medical reasons' are involved.