SEN. Francis Tolentino has asked the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to submit documents that would start off the naturalization process of Justin Brownlee and Cameron Oliver.
Tolentino said the Senate and its counterparts in Congress have not received any papers from the SBP despite the basketball body previously airing its desire to tap the two as naturalized players for Gilas Pilipinas.
Tolentino is chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice, which hold the hearings on naturalization.
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“We’ve been hearing of Justin Brownlee and Cam Oliver being naturalized. Lo and behold, sa justice committee, ready na kami mag-hearing, wala palang fina-file,” said Tolentino during a Senate hearing on Tuesday. “Not a single page of paper that would trigger and start the naturalization proceedings.”
Tolentino said he wants the procedures to begin as soon as possible so Brownlee and Oliver can play for Gilas in the November window of the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asia qualifiers. Brownlee has been practicing with Gilas already even though he has not been naturalized.
“I was willing to work overtime this November, tapusin na ito just in time for the next window sana but we haven’t received any single page. I checked my counterpart in the House, Rep. Juliet Ferrer, wala din daw na finile.
"But the guy [Brownlee] has been practicing every Monday working his b___ out every Monday coming from a game last night. The same is true with Cam Oliver. Gusto ko tumulong pero how will we start… Maliit na bagay, kami na bahala,” he added.
In response, the SBP apologized for the delay but assured that they are collating the documents.
“I apologize to the good senator and thank him for bringing this up,” said SBP vice-president Ricky Vargas. “We are not aware that there hasn’t been any application for Brownlee and we are sorry that we have been talking about it in the press and we apologize for that. We will align with you.”
SBP executive director Renauld Barrios said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino has also reminded the federation about the naturalization papers.
“Last Monday practice, kinausap ng team manager Butch Antonio si Justin Brownlee at wala pa nga raw hinihingi sa kanyang mga papers. Between then and now, gina-gather na ‘yang mga dokumentong ‘yan. I’ll remind Sir Butch Antonio, the team manager, to submit to you whatever they have so far para makita niyo,” said Barrios.