ROBIN Lopez's willingness to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the future as a naturalized player may be gladdening, but that may be as far as it goes.
"Too late," Gilas coach Chot Reyes said when asked about Lopez.
Lopez's offer to play for the Philippines in international competitions has stirred quite a buzz on the web, with netizens growing excited about the prospects of seeing the gangling NBA slotman with the curly hair strutting his wares for Gilas in the future.
"I'd love to (play for the Philippines). I realized the passion these people have for basketball," said the seven-foot, 255-lb. center, who was in the country with former Dallas and Brooklyn coach Avery Johnson and Portland teammate Wesley Matthews to grace NBA-staged events.
The five-year NBA veteran, the 15th pick overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2008 NBA draft, said he was willing to step in for Andray Blatche, who was declared ineligible for the Asian Games owing to his failure to comply with the three-year residency rule.
Reyes, however, said it may be too late in the day to consider Lopez for Gilas, considering the tedious process of naturalization in the country.
"Sa hirap ng proceso dito sa atin, I don't think we can have anyone naturalized immediately," said the Gilas coach.
But what if Lopez is willing to go through the process, Reyes was asked. Wouldn't the Trail Blazers slotman be a nice back-up option for Blatche?
There's just one drawback. Lopez is now 26 and Reyes prefers someone younger if he is to consider tapping a back-up for Blatche.
"If we want a back-up, better to get a 21-22 year old," Reyes told Spin.ph.