LOCAL sports officials have vowed to make last-ditch appeals before the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (Iagoc) to allow naturalized player Andray Blatche to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the coming Asian Games.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Ritchie Garcia, acting in his capacity as the country’s chef de mission, said he will appeal Blatche’s case during the delegation registration meeting on September 11, a few days before the 17th edition of the Asiad kicks off.
“They are questioning the residency pero ipaglalaban namin ‘yan sa September 11,” Garcia said.
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) received a letter from Incheon organizers asking for additional documents from Blatche and Fil-Am guards Gabe Norwood and Jared Dillinger to support their eligibility and, if they indeed, have met the rules on residency.
Norwood and Dillinger, both mainstays in the PBA, are expected to pass the requirement since they have been residents in the country for several years now.
However, Blatche, an NBA veteran, was only naturalized recently and is set to play in his first tournament with the Gilas Pilipinas team in the Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
Blatche’s eligibility has been questioned due to an OCA rule requiring naturalized players to be a resident of their country for three successive years.
“Right now, there is no official letter (regarding Blatche not joining the Asian Games) dahil trabaho ng SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) ‘yan,” said the PSC chairman.
For its part, POC first vice president Joey Romasanta said the local Olympic body will also do its part as president Jose ‘Peping’ Cojuangco tries to seek an audience with OCA president Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah.
“Ang POC, nag-email na sa OCA trying to seek an audience with the Sheikh kung ano ba talaga ang rules para malaman na,” said Romasanta.