JUSTIN Brownlee in the Philippine national team?
That dream may soon become a reality as national coach Yeng Guiao bared he is hoping Brownlee can be a naturalized player option for Team Pilipinas, in time for make-or-break games in the sixth and final window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers.
"Isang option yun na nakasalang, si Brownlee," he said on the heels of the Philippines' 78-70 defeat to Iran on Friday that left the team's hopes for qualification for the 2019 Fiba World Cup hanging precariously.
The decorated Ginebra reinforcement has time and again reiterated his willingness to be a naturalized Filipino, regardless if he could don the national tri-colors or not, all with a goal of living in the country for good.
Guiao said that Brownlee's naturalization process is now underway, giving the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) another option when it comes to the team's naturalized player for future competitions.
It would be better if he can be naturalized in time for the sixth and final window of the Fiba World Cup qualifiers, where Team Pilipinas faces must-win games against Kazakhstan and Qatar in February, Guiao said.
"Nasa Congress na yung papeles nya. That’s an option we can consider. Siguro kung ipu-push nila yun, baka magamit natin at mahabol (for the sixth window)," he said.
If Brownlee's naturalization pushes through, it would give the Philippines a bevy of choices with Andray Blatche, Stanley Pringle, and Christian Standhardinger, and now with the St. John's standout all in contention for the slot.
"Pwede kang mamili depende sa needs and situations. Those are the options," he said.
At 6-foot-7, Brownlee may be a little smaller compared to other nations' naturalized players like Korea's Ricardo Ratliffe and Japan's Nick Fazekas.
But at age 30, he is still at the peak of his powers, as evidenced by his performance for Ginebra over the last three years, as well as with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), both of which he led to championships.
Guiao said that there are really no concrete moves for Team Pilipinas moving forward, but he's intent on pursuing moves that can benefit the national team.
"Hindi naman serious, but knowing what we know now, naghihintay at nage-expand tayo ng options natin and that is an immediate option we can exercise," he said.