NO less than the leadership of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) and a prominent lawmaker who’s been an ardent supporter of the sport are backing national coach Chot Reyes if he decides to have either Michael Dunigan or Denzel Bowles as Gilas' next naturalized player.
SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan said he’s leaving it all up to Reyes on who he has in mind as candidate for naturalization, a move Antipolo congressman Robbie Puno said he’ll definitely push again at the House of Representative.
“I leave it up to the coaching staff led by coach Chot Reyes. Anyway he has the recommending powers,” said Pangilinan, who also believes that Dunigan and Bowles are indeed, very good candidates.
Reyes earlier said on his Twitter account@coachot that he has both Dunigan and Bowles on his short list of prospects as possible naturalized player after Marcus Douthit.
"Since Day One (of the Commissioner’s Cup), dalawa lang naman yan palagi,” said Reyes of Bowles, the reigning PBA Commissioner’s Cup Best Import playing for San Mig Coffee, and Dunigan, the young, talented reinforcement of Air21.
Spin.ph. earlier reported the 23-year-old Dunigan is open to the idea, while his coach Franz Pumaren believes the Express import is a perfect fit for Gilas Pilipinas.
Pangilinan readily threw his support behind Reyes if and when the coach decides to formally make the pitch to Dunigan and Bowles.
Puno is also 100 percent behind the plan.
“I have once again volunteered to author a bill to grant Philippine citizenship to Michael Dunigan or whoever coach Chot and the national team chooses,” said Puno in his message to Spin.ph.
The lawmaker was the person who pushed for the naturalization of Douthit in Congress, and the filing of the same House bill to naturalize NBA center Javale McGee, a move that was later shelved after the Denver Nuggets re-signed the high-flying big man to a new, multi-million contract.
Puno articulated the filing of the naturalization bill can only take place in August after a new set of lawmakers is elected in the coming May national poll.
“Congress will only begin its business in late July after the President’s SONA (State of the Nation Address). But legislation cannot begin until the House and Senate Committees are constituted,” said Puno.
“Realistically, the naturalization bill would be heard by the Justice committee only after the Fiba tournament in August,” reiterated the former sports commentator and PBA official turned lawmaker.
But other than the naturalization papers, Reyes said there are other factors which need to be considered before an offer is made.
“Unang una, the recommendation to start the process of his naturalization is not my call. Hindi ko naman alam kung ako pa rin `yung coach ng next Fiba Asia,” stressed Reyes, who will be at the helm of the national team’s campaign in the coming Fiba-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship for the second time in six years.
And then’s the salary and time of waiting for the naturalization process.
“Isyu pa rin dyan yung sweldo, plus yung proseso sa Kongreso. It will take one year,” said the only five-time PBA Coach of the Year.