FORMER Fiba-Asia secretary general Moying Martelino said he hopes the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (Iagoc) will allow the Philippines to replace Andray Blatche in the event the naturalized Filipino citizen is officially declared ineligible for the 2014 Asiad.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has submitted a 10-page position paper to the Iagoc to back up its claim that Blatche is eligible to play for Gilas Pilipinas in Incheon.
The eligibility of Blatche has been put into question after Iagoc sought documentary proof of his residency as a naturalized Filipino citizen, a clear indication that it is bent on implementing the Olympic Council of Asia requiring a naturalized player to reside in the country for at least three years.
Martelino, now a consultant of the SBP, made it clear the country will abide by what the final decision of OCA will be. However, he hopes the SBP will be given a chance to replace Blatche with fellow naturalized player Marcus Douthit in its 12-man Asiad lineup in the event Blatche is declared ineligible.
“We have presented documentary evidence why these athletes are eligible. Ngayon, kung meron silang i-declare na ineligible, bigyan sana tayo ng pagkakataon na i-replace,” said Martelino, who was the secretary general of the Fiba-Asia during the time when it was still named Asian Basketball Confederation.
Martelino said Blatche’s replacement came come from a list of 24 players SBP had submitted to Iagoc months ago, which includes Douthit who he said is eligible to play for Gilas under the three-year residency rule.
Martelino, however, made it clear he is not assuming or conceding that Blatche is ineligible for the Incheon Games.
“Ang sinasabi lang natin, kung meron silang ide-declare (na eligible), bigyan tayo ng pagkakataon na palitan,” said Martelino.
Martelino reiterated the stand of SBP that the three-year residency rule only covered naturalized players who had previously played for another national team. Blatche has never played for the United States or any other national team.
Despite SBP's stand, Martelino said there is still no guarantee that Blatche will eventually be cleared by Iagoc.
“In-explain na namin lahat ng position ng SBP pero hindi kami puwedeng magbigay ng assurance because we are not the decision makers,” said Martelino.