DEPUTY House Speaker Rep. Mikee Romero is pushing for NBA-caliber naturalized player candidates to strengthen the pool of Gilas Pilipinas for international play.
The 1Pacman Partylist Representative said he has already requested the SBP through one of its top officials and House colleague Antipolo first district Rep. Robbie Puno to submit five names that will be up for naturalization.
The lawmaker-sportsman also hopes that one of the naturalized players SBP is eyeing is a player who is capable of playing in the NBA, increasing the chances of Gilas Pilipinas to win games in international tournaments such as the Fiba Asia Cup and the Fiba Basketball World Cup.
So far, two separate House Bills have been filed in Congress to grant Filipino citizenship to Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee and Ateneo center Angelo Kouame.
Three-year NBA veteran and former San Miguel import Chris McCullough has also long signified his willingness to be naturalized and play for the Philippines.
“It’s a challenge to them to name five players that can be naturalized. Hindi lang si Kouame at Brownlee. Medyo i-elevate natin to NBA-caliber players because ito ang kailangan natin,” said Romero during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum via video conference.
Romero said naming five players will fast-track the naturalization in which multiple names will undergo the process instead of one at a time.
Once the naturalization papers of the players are complete, Romero said the SBP will now have a pool of naturalized players, and not be limited to either one or two just like during the time of Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche when they suited up for Gilas Pilipinas.
“I talked to Robbie and sabi ko sa kanya to ask the MVP group to already submit to the House five players that can be naturalized. Bakit hindi na lang natin pagsama-samahin?”
“And then from there, mamili na lang ng isa or dalawang players na isasama sa national pool at any given time but there should be five naturalized imports na puwedeng si Brownlee, puwedeng malaki, puwedeng maliit, depende kung ano ang competition ng Gilas. Sana magawa ng SBP ‘yun,” Romero said.
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