Sports

Brooklyn Nets' Andray Blatche granted Filipino citizenship to play for national team

  • In this Monday, June 9, 2014 photo, American professional basketball player Andray Blatche, center, of the Brooklyn Nets has his picture taken with Philippine senator Nancy Binay during the start of sessions at the Philippine Senate in Pasay city, Philippines. Philippine officials say Blatche has been granted Filipino citizenship today so he could play for the national team in the FIBA World Cup later this year. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    In this Monday, June 9, 2014 photo, American professional basketball player Andray Blatche, center, of the Brooklyn Nets has his picture taken with Philippine senator Nancy Binay during the start of sessions at the Philippine Senate in Pasay city, Philippines. Philippine officials say Blatche has been granted Filipino citizenship today so he could play for the national team in the FIBA World Cup later this year. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken Monday, June 9, 2014, American professional basketball player Andray Blatche, center at back, of the Brooklyn Nets places his hands on his chest as the Philippine national anthem is sung during the start of sessions at the Philippine Senate in Pasay city, Philippines. Philippine officials said Blatche  was granted Filipino citizenship Wednesday so he could play for the national team in the FIBA World Cup later this year. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    In this photo taken Monday, June 9, 2014, American professional basketball player Andray Blatche, center at back, of the Brooklyn Nets places his hands on his chest as the Philippine national anthem is sung during the start of sessions at the Philippine Senate in Pasay city, Philippines. Philippine officials said Blatche was granted Filipino citizenship Wednesday so he could play for the national team in the FIBA World Cup later this year. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)  (The Associated Press)

Philippine officials say Brooklyn Nets player Andray Blatche has been granted Filipino citizenship so he can play for the national team in the FIBA World Cup this year.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III signed a law Wednesday granting citizenship to the American-born Blatche.

Senator Edgardo Angara, the main author of the law, says Filipinos are a "sports-loving nation with a distinct affection for basketball." He says the 2.11-meter (6-foot-11) Blatche, a power forward and center, can make "significant contributions to Philippines basketball."

The International Basketball Federation, or FIBA, allows each team to have one naturalized player per tournament. The Philippines is competing at the World Cup for the first time in 35 years.

Blatche averaged 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season for Brooklyn.