(MENAFN - Arab News) MANILA: The Philippines' gold medal bid in basketball in the Asian Games in South Korea next month is suddenly in peril.
Troubling news has reached this basketball-crazed nation as the Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee (Iagoc) has begun questioning the eligibility of new naturalized Gilas Pilipinas center Andray Blatche.
In fact the Iagoc has written the Philippine Olympic Committee on Tuesday to verify the eligibility of a total of three players in the Gilas roster counting Gabe Norwood and Jared Dillinger.
The Olympic Council of Asia which oversees the Asian Games and most athletic meets in the region is looking to disqualify Blatche Norwood and Dillinger from playing for failing to satisfy a rule that requires all naturalized players to be residents of the country they will represent for the last three years.
Norwood and Dillinger who both entered the PBA in 2008 and have been residents of the Philippines will be cleared since both are also not naturalized citizens.
Blatche's case though is entirely different.
Naturalized as a Filipino just a couple of months ago there is no way that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas can prove that Blatche has been a resident of the country.
And the SBP is pinning its hopes of getting Blatche to play by looking at Fiba rules that cleared him to play as a Filipino in the World Cup in Spain starting Aug. 30.
The SBP reiterated its stand when reached by mediamen on Wednesday afternoon and the basketball body has written the OCA and Iagoc to explain why it thinks that Blatche is eligible to see action in the Incheon Games.
'Our interpretation remains the same-and that Blatche has been cleared by the Fiba hence he is clear to play in the Asian Games because Fiba runs the (basketball) event' said SBP official Moying Martelino.
One thing that is still going in favor of SBP and the Philippines is that the OCA has yet to give a written or concrete advisory as to the true status of Blatche although several things point to the former Brooklyn Net in the NBA of being denied eventually.
Korea is hosting the Games and it showed its willingness to abide by the rules of the OCA by not allowing its naturalized player to play in the Games.
The naturalized player whose identity is still being kept under wraps will reportedly play in the World Cup as well since he was cleared by the Fiba.
'Until we hear from the OCA and the Iagoc and get a concrete affirmation or denial then we cannot just react' Martelino added. 'Until that time MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan the godfather of Pilipinas basketball) cannot decide.'
An envoy of the SBP Philippine Olympic Committee official Steve Hontiveros returned from a meeting with OCA officials from China empty-handed failing to get the nod for Blatche during the Youth Olympics in Nanjing.
And should Blatche be deemed ineligible another black eye is waiting to happen for the Filipinos as Marcus Douthit will most likely not be allowed as a replacement after the deadline for submission of names for the rosters lapsed last Aug. 15.
Coach Chot Reyes had named Blatche Dillinger and Paul Lee to the Asian Games lineup way before the Aug. 15 deadline and the only changes that the Iagoc would allow would be because of injuries or medical reasons.
Problem is Blatche according to team sources had said that he doesn't want to be listed as injured because he will negotiate a contract with a new NBA team once his obligation with Gilas Pilipinas is over.