Andray Blatche is not Filipino. Not even a little bit.
The 27-year-old Brooklyn Nets center grew up in Syracuse, New York, and has no family ties in the island nation halfway around the world—but that’s not stopping him from becoming a citizen of the Philippines.
According to Andrew Keh of the New York Times, the Philippine Senate unanimously approved a bill Monday naturalizing Blatche as one of their own.
Why make a man who has never stepped foot in your country a citizen? They want Blatche to lace up for their national team.
The passing of the bill will reportedly allow Blatche to play ball for the Philippines in the FIBA World Cup in August and September.
Naturalizing Blatche is part of a larger poaching movement by the Philippines basketball team, which has been trying to lure American players away from the NBA for some time. Chot Reyes, head coach of the Philippines national team, thanked Congress on Twitter after the passing of the bill:
Blatche bill approved on third reading with affirmative vote of 20-0. Thank you Senate! Thank you Congress!— Chot Reyes (@coachot) May 26, 2014
Reyes also fielded a question from followers about the decision to rubber-stamp Blatche’s citizenship:
You'll have to ask FIBA "@renzybones: Coach, can you give us the main reason why naturalizing a player from another nation is allowed?”— Chot Reyes (@coachot) May 26, 2014
The coach confirmed that Blatche was one of many players targeted by the Philippines for naturalization:
A lot. Only he said yes "@waiting4EARVIN: Of all the talented NBA players(who's not in the USA pool) why Blatche? Who else were considered?"— Chot Reyes (@coachot) May 26, 2014
Keh reports JaVale McGee was one of those approached but wasn’t able to broker a deal due to injuries. The Philippines isn’t going to trade citizenship for damaged goods, after all.
This brings us to a question: What does fast-food naturalization mean for the future of international basketball?
Well, it certainly sets a weird precedent for future moves. If other nations were to take up the Philippines' example, we could see a talent drain of second-tier players leaving the U.S. to pursue international competition elsewhere.
This could lead to increased competition in international play for the American team, which would be good if it weren’t all based on a lie—the lie being that this athlete and this nation see each other as anything but a business partner.
We’ll see how things shake up in the aftermath of Blatche’s announcement. In the meantime, the Nets center might want to read a few travel pamphlets. He has a lot of history to catch up on if he wants to relate with his new countrymen.