Jan 30, 2014, 12:07 PM EST
The FIBA World Cup (what you used to call the World Championships) is coming to Spain this summer and the Philippines team will be there, having qualified as the No. 2 team in FIBA’s Asia tournament (behind Iran, surprisingly). The Philippines were led up front by 6’11” Marcus Douthit (who played at Providence, was drafted in the second round by the Lakers and spent a couple of years in the D-League).
Gilas Pilipinas has got an extra month of training period for the 2014 FIBA World Cup (the Philippines professional league shortened its season for the cause), and is now looking at NBA players JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche to be put in a pool of naturalized players for use in its long-term program…
Before June 30, Gilas is hoping Congress grants McGee and Blatche their naturalization papers….
“We’re in discussion with Javale. 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,” said Reyes.
This has the potential to be both a smart basketball move and a gold mine of unintentional comedy. I’m more pleased with the latter.
McGee has played in just five games for the Nuggets this season due to a stress fracture in his left tibia, and he’s not even back to running yet (just working on an elliptical machine). Blatche, on the other hand, is having a solid season for the Brooklyn Nets. While McGee has had tryouts with Team USA he’s never made the squad for a tournament (once you play for one nation in a major FIBA event you have to play for that nation the rest of your career).
If this goes through — and that’s still a big if — suddenly the Philippines team becomes a lot more interesting. Not a threat to the United States or Spain (the two title contenders) but a lot more interesting to watch.
The World Cup will take place Aug. 30 through Sept. 14 in Spain. The event is nearly as popular as the Olympics for basketball (at least outside the United States) and the winner of the event gets an automatic berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Which is why Team USA will be focused — lose this to Spain and in the summer of 2015 the USA has to assemble a team good enough to qualify for Rio, not take the summer off.
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