McCullough for Gilas Pilipinas? SBP chief says there is 'interest'
MANILA, Philippines – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has reached out to Chris McCullough as Gilas Pilipinas looks to build a pool of naturalized players in the run-up for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
SBP president Al Panlilio bared the federation has been in touch with the former NBA player, although he was quick to note nothing is set in stone yet.
"There is interest of course, but interest is different from agreeing," Panlilio said. "That's something that has to be worked on."
"[I] think he's showed his intention to be part of the program."
The clamor to bring McCullough on board as Gilas Pilipinas' new naturalized player grew after leading San Miguel to a PBA title last season against TNT, which was led by former NBA veteran Terrence Jones.
Still young at 25, the 6-foot-9 stalwart fits the bill of the modern big man: can shoot from the outside, an asset on defense, and athletic.
But Panlilio said for the naturalization talks to move forward, the SBP has to appoint a full-time coach for the national team first.
"It's chicken and egg. Maybe the new coach has a different need. That's also something that we're trying to balance," Panlilio said.
"[W]e want to make sure that we don't get somebody that might not fit the program. It's quite a difficult time to decide."
On the other hand, while their negotiations with McCullough are still on the "very early stage," the SBP has pushed the naturalization of Angelo Kouame.
"We've just put the name of Angelo Kouame in the process," Panlilio said as Rep. Robbie Puno – who also serves as SBP vice chairman – filed a House bill seeking to grant Kouame Filipino citizenship. – Rappler.com