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.
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.
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.
In a letter to POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr., to whom the IAGOC letter dated Aug. 26 from Mr. Jo Youngha of the Director General of Sports Headquarters was coursed, SBP executive director Renauld Barrios points out:
“Briefly, we say that the Articles 49 and 50 of the OCA do not operate to render our three mentioned players ineligible to play in the 2014 Asian Games.
“Assuming, without conceding, that the three (3) years residency rule in Articles 49 and 50 is applicable to Mr. Norwood and Dillinger, these two are likewise eligible to play in the 2014 Asian Games considering that they have resided in the Philippines for more than three (3) years prior to the 2014 Asian Games. Their old passports are hereunto attached to show that Mr. Norwood and Mr. Dillinger have resided in the Philippines more than three (3) years prior to the 2014 Asian Games."
Mr. Norwood’s old Philippine passport showed it was issued on July 23, 2007 with expiration on July 23, 2012, while Mr. Dillinger’s previous Philippine passport was issued on April 30, 2009 with expiration on April 29, 2014.
PBA operations director Ricardo Santos also issued two certifications dated Aug. 27, the first attesting that “Mr. Gabriel Norwood was drafted by the Rain or Shine Elast Painters in the 2008 PBA Rookie Draft and has been playing with the said team up to the present,” and the second confirming that “Mr. Jared Dillinger was drafted by the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in the 2008 PBA Rookie Draft, playing from 2008 to June 13, and was then “trade to the Meralco Bolts on June 10, 2013 and continues to play for the same team up to the present.”
The SBP also submit that the 3 year residency rule of Article 49 and 50 of the OCA Constitution does not apply to Andray Blatche for the following reasons:
MAJOR PREMISE I
OCA Constitution and Rules (attached Articles 49 and 50 – Annex “B”)
We look at Article 49 Eligibility Code as the “mother” provision of the rules on player eligibility – and we quote the FIRST item listed in said Code as follows:
To be eligible for participation in the OCA GAMES, a competitor must:
1. Observe and abide by the Rules of the IOC/ OCA as per Olympic Charter.
• We take note of the specific mention of “... Rules of the IOC/ OCA as per Olympic Charter.”, which means it is of supreme importance that IOC and OCA rules should be consistent with the Olympic Charter.
• We submit that for a basketball player to be eligible to play in the Olympic Games in keeping with the Olympic Charter, a player must necessarily comply with FIBA eligibility rules since these are the basketball player eligibility rules applied for the Olympic Games.
• FIBA player eligibility rules covering “naturalized” players dictate that a “naturalized” player can only play for one (1) country and can NEVER play for any other country forever. There is no “residency” requirement under FIBA eligibility rules.
MAJOR PREMISE II
OLYMPIC CHARTER (attached Bye-Law to Article 40 Par 1, Article 41 and Bye-Law to Article 41 Par 1 and 2 – Annex “C”)
a) Bye- law to Rule 40 Eligibility Code
1. Each IF establishes its sport’s own eligibility criteria in accordance with the Olympic Charter. Such criteria must be submitted to the IOC Executive Board for approval. xx
a) Article 41 Nationality of Competitors
1. Any competitor in the Olympic Games must be a national of the country of the NOC which is entering such competitor.
2. All matters relating to the determination of the country which a competitor may represent in the Olympic Games shall be resolved by the IOC Executive Board. xx
b) Bye- Law to Rule 41
1. A competitor who is a national of two or more countries at the same time may represent either one of them, as he may elect. However, after having represented one country in the Olympic Games, in continental or regional games or in world or regional championships recognised by the relevant IF, he may not represent another country unless he meets the conditions set forth in paragraph 2 below that apply to persons who have changed their nationality or acquired a new nationality.
2. A competitor who has represented one country in the Olympic Games, in continental or regional games or in world or regional championships recognised relevant IF, and who has changed his nationality or acquired a new nationality, may participate in the Olympic Games to represent his new country provided that at least three years have passed since the competitor last represented his former country. This period may be reduced or even cancelled, with the agreement of the NOCs and IF concerned, by the IOC Executive Board, which takes into account the circumstances of each case.
• OCA Rules on three (3) years residence requirement, again, in order to adhere to and make them consistent with the Olympic Charter (see attached Annex “C”), must apply only to those who have played for a FIRST (1st) country and who want to play for a SECOND (2nd) or additional country.
In other words, even if the three (3) year residency rule of the Olympic Charter, for the sake of argument, is applicable to basketball, it shall apply only to the player who opts to play for a 2nd or additional country.
MINOR PREMISE – Re Mr. Andray Blatche
• FIBA has qualified him to be eligible to play for the Philippines as its “naturalized” player for the upcoming 2014 FIBA World Cup and effectively in all FIBA sanctioned international tournaments, including the Olympic Games (if Philippines qualifies) and Asian Games.
• He has not played for the national team of any other country and is therefore not covered by the 3-year residency requirement under the IOC and/ or OCA eligibility rules, vis –a-vis the Olympic Charter
• Blatche is a current holder of a valid Philippine passport.
• In the Technical Handbook for the Incheon Asian Games for Basketball (Article III Techical Information Section 6 Competition Rules) it states that “general issues” will be covered by OCA rules and that “technical issues” will be covered by IF(FIBA) rules. We further respectfully submit that PLAYER ELIGIBILITY is a “technical issue” and should therefore follow FIBA PLAYER ELIGIBILITY rules since IFs have different PLAYER ELIGIBILTY rules from sport to sport – there are no ONE (1) singular PLAYER ELIGIBILITY rules for ALL sports. This is the case for the Olympic Games, in keeping with the Olympic Charter and we trust that OCA rules subscribe to the same policy and position to be consistent with the Olympic Charter, which OCA holds sacred.
Based on the following reasons, the SBP believes Mr. Andray Blatche is eligible to play in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. This is submitted to IAGOC for illumination and understanding.