Philippines National Team Recruiting Non-Filipino NBA Players

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2014

The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup won't take over Spain until the end of August, but now might be a good time to set your DVRs to catch the Philippines national team.

Why the Philippines, you ask? Because JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche. That's why.

According to Nelson Beltran of The Philippine Star, the country is eyeing both NBA bigs "to be put in a pool of naturalized players for use in its long-term program."

Still a bit lost? Don't worry. Blatche, a New York native, is right there with you.

"I'm not too quite sure about anything about it," he said, via Andrew Keh of The New York Times. "They brought it to my attention, and I was like, 'Yeah, that sounds cool.'"

If you're wondering about the connection between these players and this country, it's pretty simple—there isn't one.

What makes this a possible pairing is a stipulation that allows each team one naturalized player on its roster. "It's a little weird, and arguably unethical," Eric Freeman of Yahoo Sports' Ball Don't Lie wrote. "But it's allowed."

Per Beltran, the national team is hoping that the government will grant each player his citizenship before June 30, the date when it will need to announce a 24-man roster.

McGee nearly joined the Philippines in 2012, but ultimately that fell through. It sounds as if he's the preferred option once again, with Blatche serving as an insurance policy.

"We’re in discussion with Javale," national coach Chot Reyes said, per Beltran. "However, he’s just found out that he needs to undergo a procedure for his shin injury. With that development, it’s prudent also to choose a backup. Blatche agreed to undergo the naturalization process. He wants to play for the Philippines."

What put these two players on the Philippines' radar? That's a fantastic question, and one that hasn't been answered yet.

Both players have highlight-reel talent and an uncanny ability to find their way onto "Shaqtin' A Fool." Neither one would make the Philippines a contender, but both would immensely improve the team's entertainment appeal.

"This has the potential to be both a smart basketball move and a gold mine of unintentional comedy," ProBasketballTalk's Kurt Helin wrote. "I’m more pleased with the latter."

Hopefully, this is only the first chapter of what could be one of the best hoops stories of the year. The NBA is littered with feast-or-famine players, but few fall under the highlights-or-hilarity category.

These are two of the biggest and best names to come out of that group. And they might actually be put in charge of leading a national team.

Hollywood wouldn't buy this script. It's simply too unbelievable.

Maybe the basketball gods felt bad about medically thinning the league's superstar ranks this season. They owed us for all the damage done—and just took a major step toward making amends.

 

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