A first-time Manila visitor, Metta World Peace was an immediate bearer of good news.
The former NBA star disclosed his son teenager son Jeron Artest has already applied for a Philippine passport, raising the possibility of the young cager playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the future.
The young Artest is 16 years old and falls under the allowable age by FIBA for players who own dual passports.
“My son already applied for a Philippine passport. He’s hoping to make the (national) team someday,” said Metta, formerly known as Ron Artest, in his conversation with SnippetMedia’s Kristina Maralit upon his arrival in the country Saturday afternoon.
“He’s excited and I’m excited for him,” added the 37-year-old Queens, New York native, who won an NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010.
Jeron visited the Philippines two years ago accompanied by her Filipina mother Jennifer Ruth Uy Palma, a former neighbor of Metta in New York and schoolmate at St. John’s University.
The Fil-Am player even attended a La Salle practice during his visit here and met former King Archer and namesake Jeron Teng. Artest was later invited by La Salle patron and former ambassador Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco to a dinner party at the North Forbes clubhouse.
“I can’t wait,” added Metta about his son suiting up the Philippine colors in international competitions.
Metta was supposed to accompany his son during his brief visit in Manila in 2015, but his busy schedule wouldn’t allow him to come over.
A first round pick of the Chicago Bulls during the 1999 draft, Metta played 18 seasons in the NBA for Chicago, Indiana, Sacramento, Houston, LA Lakers, and New York.
He’s staying in the country for less than 24 hours and will fly back in the U.S. Sunday. Metta came over from China where he had his press tour.
Shortly after arriving here, his first order of the day is to look for ‘halo-halo’ and the best street ball park in Manila.
“It’s really more of a personal visit. He just wanted to see the Philippines,” Maralit added.