Columnist Noah Perkins will be covering the 2014 FIBA World Cup for One-Bid Wonders. Over the next 17 days, leading up to the Aug. 30 tip-off, he will be previewing all 24 qualified teams.
Maybe it was the three slices of Papa Johns, or the slice of buffalo and ranch street pizza. Or perhaps it was the jalapeno chicken sausage, or possibly the black and white cookie, or the two peanut butter squares. There’s even an outside chance it was the RumChata mixed with milk and ice cream. Though, I’d like to think my 3 a.m. wake up call was something bigger than food poisoning, as if my body was trying to signal my brain that something amazing was happening half a world a way.
Early Monday morning, at approximately the same time that I was having an intimate experience with the porcelain throne, Andray Blatche was making his debut with The Philippine National Team in a world cup tune-up game in Spain.
Yes, the same Andray Blatche who once attributed losing 5-pounds to a haircut. Andray Blatche, whose shoe was shit in by Gilbert Arenas. Andray Blatche, you know the guy who was forced to go to a seminar on solicitation. Andray Blatche, the man who did this!
In other words, Andre Blatche, the African American, 100-percent-not-Filipino, free agent who spent last season on the Nets, was playing for the Filipino national team.
(Editors Note: Andray Blatche was also shot during an attempted carjacking)
Because only 700 Americans care about the FIBA World Cup, here are some of the basics: National teams from 24 countries participate. These 24 teams are broken into four groups of six teams. Every team in each group plays every other team in their group once. The top four teams in each group move on to the round of 16, at which point the tournament adopts the exact same format as March Madness (one-and-done style brackets).
Entry into the tournament is determined via regional qualifying tournaments, I.E.: Euro-Basket, Asia, Africa, etc. In addition to the top few teams from each qualifier, four wild card teams are selected from around the world. Automatic entry is given to the host city (Spain) and the previous Olympic gold medal winning team (the United States). The team that wins the world cup automatically qualifies for the 2016 summer Olympics – but considering how much larger the world cup is, the argument can be made that it is THE tournament and the Olympics are played in its shadow.
So how is it that an obviously non –Filipino is allowed to play for the Philippine national team? Well, every team is allowed one naturalized player — basically like when a company hires the dude who can’t work the office fax machine but can hit home runs over the lights for the company softball team. Many teams abstain from bringing ringers in; some don’t — god bless teams like the Philippines and the Ukraine.
Why Andray Blatche? (more…)