MANILA, Philippines – If things fall into place, Justin Brownlee could play for Gilas Pilipinas in the crucial sixth and final window of the World Cup qualifiers.
National team coach Yeng Guiao said the Barangay Ginebra import could be an “immediate option” for naturalized player to boost the Philippines’ chances of reaching the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
After back-to-back home losses in the fifth window that dropped them to 5-5 and 4th place in Group F, the Filipinos would need all the help they can get in do-or-die away contests against Kazakhstan and Qatar in February.
“Ang isang option na nakasalang na ay si Brownlee (One option that is already in the works is Brownlee),” Guiao told reporters after the Philippines’ painful 70-78 loss to Iran on Monday, December 3.
“Nasa Congress na ‘yung papeles niya. (His papers are already in Congress). That’s an option we can consider…. Siguro, kung ipu-push nila ‘yun, baka magamit natin, mahabol (Probably if they push it, we can tap him in time).”
Back in August, 1-Pacman Representative and NorthPort Batang Pier owner Mikee Romero, together with 3 other congressmen, spearheaded Brownlee’s bid for naturalization by filing House Bill No. 8106.
The 30-year-old American, for his part, has expressed his desire to become a naturalized Filipino.
If his naturalization pushes through, Brownlee would be a welcome addition to the Philippines’ lineup of naturalized players, which includes Andray Blatche, Christian Standhardinger, and Stanley Pringle.
“Puwede kang mamili depende sa (We can choose among them depending on the) needs and situations. Those are the options,” Guiao said.
In two years in the Philippines, Brownlee has proven to be a true winner and a clutch performer by leading the Gin Kings to 3 championships in the PBA and Alab Pilipinas to a title in the ASEAN Basketball League.
His accolades have fanned the fire of clamor for him to be included in the national team, but Guiao said nothing is set in stone yet.
“Hindi naman serious, but ‘yun nga, knowing what we know now, nag-aantay, nag-e-expand tayo ng options natin and that is an immediate option we can exercise.”
(It’s not serious, but knowing what we know now, we are waiting and expanding our options and that is an immediate option we can exercise.) – Rappler.com
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