SBP stands ground, lays down 'irrefutable proof' backing Andray Blatche eligibility for Asian Games
Andray Blatche's eligibility is a complex issue that revolves around a dispute on whose rules should apply in the Asian Games in Incheon - the Fiba's, the International Olympic Committee's, the Olympic Council of Asia's, or the Incheon Asiad handbook. Jerome Ascano

THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) dug in for a fight against the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee with regards to Andray Blatche, Gabe Norwood, and Jared Dillinger, insisting that the three are eligible to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the Asiad's basketball competitions next month.

The SBP, through executive director Renauld Barrios, released a position paper it submitted to the Philippine Olympic Committee which cited "irrefutable proof" that newly naturalized player Blatche as well as Fil-Americans Norwood and Dillinger are eligible for the Incheon showpiece.

The SBP paper was in response to a letter from Incheon organizers to the POC on Tuesday demanding more proof to back up the eligibility of the three, a clear indication that they are bent on applying the three-year residency rule in the screening of players for the basketball competitions.

[See Blatche eligibility in peril as Asiad organizers demand residency proof

The cases of Norwood and Dillinger are not expected to be a concern, since the two PBA veterans were only questioned because their passports are new.

Even assuming while not conceding that the three-year residency rule should apply in the Asiad, the SBP has submitted to the POC the two Fil-Americans' old passports as well as certifications from the PBA to prove that they have resided in the country for far longer than three years.

Blatche's case is a lot more complex, however, since he was naturalized just weeks before Gilas started preparations for the Fiba World Cup in Spain. His eligibility also revolves around a dispute on whose rules should apply in his case - the Fiba's, the International Olympic Committee's, or the Olympic Council of Asia's.

In a point-for-point explanation, the SBP insisted that Blatche should be eligible since the OCA's three-year residency rule should be consistent with the same rule of the Olympic charter that states that it is only required from players who have previously played for another country.

Blatche has never played for the US in any international competition in the past.

The SBP also pointed out that the Technical Handbook of the basketball competitions of the Asian Games states that 'general rules' will be covered by OCA rules and that 'technical rules' should be covered by Fiba rules.

Blatche's eligibility case, the SBP insisted, is a 'technical issue' that should be governed by Fiba rules, which Barrios pointed out has already cleared the former Brooklyn Net to play for Gilas in the Fiba World Cup that fires off in Spain on Saturday.

[See Top OCA official says Blatche not eligible for Asian Games, admit Garcia]

Despite SBP's explanation, the controversy over Blatche's eligibility is not expected to be tackled until September 11 when Asiad organizers hold its registration meeting, where Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia, in his capacity as chef de mission, plans to clear up the issue once and for all.

Below is the position paper of the SBP in full:

IN light of clarifications sought by the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee on the eligibility of Gilas Pilipinas players Gabe Norwood, Jared Dillinger and Andray Blatche, the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas has forwarded to the Philippine Olympic Committee pertinent documents providing irrefutable proof as to the qualifications of the three.

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