MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee’s naturalization bid in the Senate gained ground after getting the nod from the justice and human rights committee on Monday, November 21.
After acknowledging receipt of 21 different documents aiding Brownlee’s naturalization application and hearing no objection from various government agencies, committee chairman Senator Francis Tolentino approved the bill, which will now be tackled at the plenary level.
Brownlee, a two-time PBA Best Import awardee, was joined by officials from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), much like in his appearance at the House last November 16.
“The proposed measure is our contribution to our collective efforts to achieve our dream to regain the top spot in the Southeast Asian Games and winning in other international tournaments,” said Senator Ronald dela Rosa, the bill’s author.
“Justin Brownlee, as I know, is a an athlete characterized by excellence and humility, he is a very good example to the Filipino people,” added Dela Rosa, who is a self-confessed Ginebra fan.
”He is not only loved by Filipino basketball fans and non-fans alike but if they see Justin Brownlee’s demeanor during games, they will learn to love this kind of this athlete because of his humility.”
The SBP, led by executive director Sonny Barrios, legal counsel Atty. Aga Francisco, and Gilas team manager Butch Antonio, also thanked the Senate for the help, assuring that Brownlee’s addition will improve the Gilas pool.
Antonio added that Brownlee’s possible inclusion in the naturalized pool that already has Utah Jazz veteran Jordan Clarkson and Ateneo center Ange Kouame will be a big help in a busy 2023.
Aside from the World Cup, the Philippines is set to play in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in May, the postponed Asian Games in September, and the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in November.
Brownlee, 34, is being eyed as the country’s naturalized player in the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers set in February at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Facing the Philippines are FIBA Asia Cup runner-up Lebanon on February 24 and Jordan on February 27.
Gilas currently has a 5-3 record in Group E following a successful road trip in the Middle East where it beat Jordan and Saudi Arabia. – Rappler.com