HIGHLY-TOUTED Fil-Am Jalen Green has expressed interest in playing for the Philippine team in the future, but his eligibility remains a big question mark.
Green, 16, has been making waves in his Philippine debut, wowing the crowd in the NBTC National Finals with a high-flying show capped by a 51-point explosion in FilAm Sports USA's 92-98 loss to National University on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-foot-5 guard has been ranked the top sophomore in the US based on the ESPN 25 Class of 2020 rankings, but said yes when asked about the possibility of donning the Philippine colors in the future.
“Yes of course,” said Green, whose mother and grandfather are Filipinos. “It’s always an opportunity to come play in the Philippines where my basketball can lead to.”
At this point in his young career, Green said he is open to anything, including playing in the NBA.
“You’ll never know. It’s open. I can play in the Philippines. I can play in the NBA,” said Green, who plays the guard position in high school despite his size.
FilAm Sports USA coach Bong Utep said: “His game speaks for itself. If you are considered the number one sophomore in the US, it speaks volumes. We are just happy to have him, have the courage to come to the Philippines, be proud of his roots."
Problem is, his eligibility to play for the Philippines is under question.
Green has previously played for Team USA's Under-16 team, which under Fiba rules should disqualify him from playing for any other nation in Fiba-sanctioned tournaments, except as a naturalized player.
Even granting that there are certain provisions in Fiba's elibility rules that can grant Green a reprieve on that particular rule, it is still doubtful that was able to secure a Philippine passport before turning 16.
"There's no harm in checking (the rules)," said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios when asked about Green's eligibility.
Interestingly, Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio was one of the spectators at ringside on Wednesday when Green and FilAm Sports USA took on the NU Bulldogs in the NBTC Elite Eight stage.
"I'm just here to take a look at him," Antonio told SPIN.ph.
Antonio, who is also SBP's deputy executive director, said he has no idea about Green's eligibility to play for Gilas in the future but is keen to find out.
"We can be introduced and take it from there," Antonio added.
For his part, Batang Gilas team manager Andrew Teh has no doubt Green will be an asset to the PH youth team if he is available and eligible.
"If he is eligible, we will wish that he will be part of our team," said the Batang Gilas team manager.