Andray Blatche goes native in Philippines

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
2:04
PM ET
Andray Blatche must really want to play for the Philippines this summer.

Blatche flew to Manila for the first time on Sunday morning and met with the country’s national team coach, Chot Reyes. He is expected to stay for a couple of days.



“The whole purpose of the trip was to introduce him, for him to meet the team, to meet MVP [Filipino businessman Manny V. Pangilinan], to pay a visit to the two houses tomorrow, the Congress and the Senate,” Reyes said, according to Filipino media outlets.

“And then, we’ll have time to watch a PBA (Philippines Basketball Association) game tomorrow as well. Andray just wanted to make sure he comes in and shows the Filipinos that he’s here, he’s for real.”

Blatche was granted citizenship by the Philippines Senate in late May. Philippines President Benigno Aquino III, who holds veto power, has yet to approve the bill.

But Blatche’s trip to the Philippines seems to show that he’s serious about his commitment to the country. Perhaps it will be enough for Aquino to make his dual-citizenship official.

“It was an amazing opportunity for me to come here, to learn your culture and to represent y’all,” Blatche said in a press conference.

“I was very thankful the first time I heard about it. I was excited, I pretty much jumped on it and I was all for it.”

Blatche is not of Filipino descent, but joked that he was “half Filipino.”

He would instantly become the country’s best player. The Philippines will take part in the FIBA World Cup in Spain (Aug. 30-Sept. 14).

The 27-year-old center has a player option with the Brooklyn Nets for 2014-15, but he has said he’s going to opt out and become an unrestricted free agent.

Mike Mazzeo

ESPN New York Writer

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