Gilas Pilipinas mulls withdrawal from Asian Games; SBP makes last-minute appeal for Blatche’s eligibility issues

Andray Blatche (photo credits: FIBA.com, PhilSTAR.com

MANILA—There’s a possibility that Smart Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippines’ national basketball team, would withdraw from participating at the basketball wars in the 2014 Asian Games later this month.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) chairman Ricky Vargas said in a statement after reading the letter from Haider Farman, director of the Asian Games Department of the Olympic Council of Asia recently.

Farman’s letter states that they are stranding firm by their decision on turning down the application of Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Andray Blatche, after finding the latter ‘ineligible’ in accordance to their three-year residence rule.

“I think it’s with finality, but we will still be sending a group there to talk to them,” said Vargas in a report by SPIN.ph.

Andray Blatche (photo credits: FIBA.com, PhilSTAR.com
Andray Blatche (photo credits: FIBA.com, PhilSTAR.com

OCA’s final decision came despite earlier reports that the SBP, through its chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, made final appeal to the sports-governing body president Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabahallow in allowing the naturalized center to play with the Nationals in the games set to be held September 19 onwards at Incheon, South Korea.

In the communication, Pangilinan cited “misunderstanding” of the eligibility rules between the regional competitions and FIBA as the reason for the appeal.

“It is our sincere hope that this “misunderstanding” would not lead the SBP to consider any alternative other than to participate, considering that the Games are due to start in less than two weeks,” part of SBP letter reads.

Even the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) appealed to the OCA for the review and possibly reversal of their decision on Blatche’s disqualification.

“I would kindly request that you review your decision and allay FIBA’s regulations on eligibility for all teams participating in the basketball tournament the Asian Games and re-enlist the Filipino player. This would certainly be fair for the athlete concern and his country, equally” stated Patrick Bauman, secretary general of the FIBA.

In lieu of OCA’s decision, SBP is now studying the possibility of Gilas Pilipinas withdrawing from the competition.

“We are exhausting all means to come up with a diplomatic solution,” said Vargas.

In addition, SBP said they will send a delegation to discuss with the Asiad organizers regarding the matter. The team includes Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chairman Jose Cojuangco, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Richie Garcia, and SBP consultant Moying Martelino.

“We’re doing this without surrender. We’re trying one last time. Whether we get slapped on the face is not important for us. What’s important is we’re going all out for one last time,” Vargas said in a Philippine STAR report.

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