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NBA star cleared to play in World Cup for adopted nation

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With the FIFA World Cup underway in Brazil much of the world will be concentrated on the tournament for the next month or so.

One NBA player however had another World Cup on his agenda this week.

Brooklyn Nets' Andray Blatche has this week officially become a Filipino citizen, with the signature from the nation's president, Benigno Aquino III, meaning the veteran center can play for his adopted nation in this summer's FIBA World Cup in Spain.

The Philippine Senate had already passed a bill last month, which granted Blatche, who was born in Syracuse, New York, citizenship to the Asian nation but the stamp of approval from the political leader was required in order to make it one-hundred percent official.

The summer tournament does not begin until Aust but the paperwork had to be completed by June 30, when the Philippines were required to submit their initial 24-man roster.

The idea was first suggested to Blatche way back in January of this year, with the suggestion that the 27-year-old could play for the Philippines laughed at by his Brooklyn Nets teammates.

The player himself though has always spoken keenly of the idea, and was happy that it has finally become official this week:

"The opportunity that I've been receiving to come out here and represent the Philippines is something that you can only wish for and I'm very thankful to have the opportunity so when they asked me to come, I was excited," he explained in an interview.

Blatche will bring eight years of NBA experience to the Filipino roster, and the head coach of the national team, Chot Reyes, is clearly expecting a big impact from the Nets player having spoken on Twitter of his excitement at the news the papers had been signed:

"He will give inside presence with his size, and he has that special skill-set peculiar for a big guy - he has outside shooting ability and can put the ball on the floor," Reyes told reporters this week.

Blatche formerly had no strong links with the country he will now play basketball for, with his trip to the capital Manila his first time in the Philippines, but that hasn't stopped the country putting their faith in the Nets veteran ahead of the 2014 tournament.

Blatche and the Philippines find themselves in Group B alongside Argentina, Croatia, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Senegal.

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