John Sodaro
Tuesday May 27th, 2014

(Claus Andersen/Getty Images) Andray Blatche is close to becoming a citizen of the Philippines. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche is one step away from becoming a citizen of the Philippines and playing for the country's national team in the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup.  On Monday, according to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), a bill to grant Blatche citizenship was approved.

Filipino senator Sonny Angara, who sponsored the bill, said the process still has one step to go before Blatche is able to play for the national team. The paperwork will be sent to the country's president, Benigno Aquino III. If the president approves it, Blatche's citizenship will be official.

The country's senate unanimously approved the Blatche bill.

"Andray Blatche has openly expressed his desire to play for the Philippines," Angara said.

"He is in a position, at age 28, to make significant contributions to Philippine basketball and accordingly, eligible for the conferment of the honor of being a Philippine citizen.

"Blatche is possibly the best center from the NBA that we can get who is willing to shun more lucrative offers now and in the future just to be part of our national team."

Blatche has played eight seasons in the NBA and averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds in the this season for the Nets.

The Phillippines will take on Argentina, Greece, Croatia, Senegal and Puerto Rico in Sevilla's Group B of the World Cup, which will take place starting in August. SI Wire: Report: Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph has preliminary discussions for long-term extension

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