THE man behind the naturalization bids of NBA players Javale McGee and Andray Blatche is optimistic the two bills will be approved in time for Gilas Pilipinas' stint in the Fiba World Cup in Spain in late August.
Antipolo representative Robbie Puno told Spin.ph that he has on Wednesday filed the two bills before the House Justice Committee, where its chairman representative, Jun Tupaz, is already readying the papers for first reading on the house floor.
“It has to pass there first bago dalhin sa floor,” said Puno, who was also behind the naturalization of Marcus Douthit for the national team.
Puno, a former PBA official and sports commentator, said Douthit's naturalization process took seven months - quite fast by Congress standards. McGee and Blatche's naturalization will have to be approved even faster for them to be available for Gilas in Spain, he added.
“(The approval of Douthit's papers) is a record in naturalization dito sa ating bansa," said Puno. "'Yan din ang gusto nating i-break sa papers nina McGee and Blatche."
“We have to try it. Kaya naman siguro. Saka nakikita naman nila (solons) na maganda ang resulta ng pag-naturalize kay Marcus, so may precedent na,” he added.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes on Thursday said he wants either Denver star McGee or Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets to be part of his 24-man pool with Douthit as he forms the team bound for the World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
The deadline for the submision of lineups for the World Cup is on July 30.
For McGee and Blatche to see action in the two major tournaments, Puno said their naturalization papers will have to breeze through both houses of congress with nary an opposition.
“Yung mga bill naman kasi na nabibinbin, yung tumatagal bago ma-approve, 'yan yung maraming kumokontra. I think dito sa naturalization papers nina Javale at Andray, I am hoping wala naman (opposition),” explained the youthful solon.
Puno hopes to get past the three congressional readings of the bill before March 14, when both the houses of congress will have a break.
“March 14 to May 4 kasi break kami, resume nun May 5 na. So ang target ko sa pagbalik namin sa May 5, 'yung Senate counterpart na ng bill ang tinatalakay,” he said, stressing that before a bill is signed into law, it has to be approved on three readings by the two chambers.
For full interview with Rep. Puno, click here.
“Yes, mahabang proseso talaga ito and after ma-approve sa Senate at Congress, may 30 days pa si President (Aquino) to review and decide on it kung isasabatas (yung naturalization ng dalawa),” Puno said.
Puno said he will also seek the help of House Speaker Sonny Belmonte.
“Kasi 'pag sumuporta si Speaker, lahat sasabay na. Wala na sigurong problema. And that’s what I hope to do,” said Puno, who is also burning the lines talking to his fellow congressmen to push for the twin bills.
Puno hopes the naturalization proceedings must be done before Congress adjourns on June 13, as the next Congress will only resume on July 27, which is already close to the deadline for the submission of lineups.
“Am I optimistic? We are under the gun. Sana lang walang kumalaban kasi tatagal,” he said.