Robert Jaworski prefers homegrown stars, Fil-foreigners over naturalized players for Gilas
Former national player and coach Robert Jaworski says top amateurs could also be tapped aside from PBA players. Jerome Ascano

HOMEGROWN and Fil-foreign players should be given priority over naturalized in the make-up of the Philippine national basketball team, according to PBA legend Robert Jaworski.

“Let’s face it. It is a very contentious topic," said Jaworski of the practice of tapping naturalized players as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) begins the process of picking members of the national basketball team for future competitions including the 2015 Fiba Asia Championship.

"The question here is what is your philosophy and what is your objective. It would be better siguro if there is really a blood line. Mas mabuti siguro,” the former Ginebra playing-coach added.

Jaworski said members of Gilas Pilipinas should also not necessarily come from the PBA, saying standouts from the amateur and college ranks should also be considered.

“I think it is already happening (all-PBA team). But this is not for anybody’s last name other than for the Filipinos. If there is a great talent in college that can help, why not incorporate him there,” said Jaworski, who handled the national team in the 1990 Beijing Asian Games.

“If we can get the best in the PBA, that’s one of the better options because they have a very tough competition and they also started the efforts with a plan. Adjustments lang here and there,” said Jaworski.

[See Jaworski on possibly taking over Gilas coaching job: 'It's not a bad idea']

Gilas had employed naturalized citizens for international play since the eighties, and in the late 2000s the SBP started the search for new foreign reinforcement.

Marcus Douthit who was hired in 2010, gained Filipino citizenship in 2011 and saw action in various tournaments including the 2013 Fiba-Asia Championship where the Philippines placed second. Andray Blatche was naturalized early this year and Gilas Pilipinas nail one victory in the Fiba World Cup.

Jaworski also lauded SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan for his support of Gilas Pilipinas.

“It’s not easy to come up with millions for this endeavor. But it’s worth it. I hope he continues to support not just basketball but other sports,” said Jaworski.

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