MANILA, Philippines – Brooklyn Nets’ Andray Blatche is excited to get his naturalization papers done to start training with the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.
"I can’t wait to visit the Philippines. I’m looking forward to training camp. I can’t believe how many Filipinos have come up to me asking about the national team," the 6'11" center said in Joaquin Henson’s Philstar column, The Dean’s Corner.
The NBA player has inched closer to becoming a naturalized Filipino after a subcommittee of the Senate justice panel approved the bill seeking to grant him Filipino citizenship early this month.
Blatche said he knows Marcus Douthit, who played a big part in the Philippines' qualification for the FIBA Worlds.
He added that he is also familiar with the games of some NBA cagers who will also be joining the FIBA tournament.
"I’ll do my best out there. I know Marcus. I also know the guys we'll be playing against like [Manu] Ginobili and [Luis] Scola of Argentina. I expect to be ready to play in Spain," said Blatche.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes is reportedly planning to take the training pool to Florida City, where Blatche will be staying in the NBA off season.
Blatche plans to become a free agent by end of June and was advised by his agent to be available for the duration of the negotiations.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is hoping that Blatche could beef up the Gilas Pilipinas squad for the Worlds in August and the XVII Asiad in September.
Marcus Douthit, who led Gilas Pilipinas to a second-place finish in the FIBA Asia Championship, will be put on reserve.