Naturalized backups for Gilas sought in Congress
MANILA, Philippines – Antipolo Rep. Robbie Puno, author of the bill bestowing Filipino citizenship on Marcus Douthit, is batting for more naturalized players for inclusion in the long-term program of the Philippine national team.
Puno delivered a privilege speech in Congress the day after Gilas Pilipinas completed its historic showing in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship, hailing his fellow congressmen for their contribution to the success of the Gilas campaign.
Puno stressed, though, that the nation’s aspiration doesn’t end there.
“The task is not yet complete. There is still much work to be done. We have achieved our objective of securing a slot in the FIBA World Cup, but not our dream of becoming Asian champions,” he said.
He wants to firm up the country’s long-term program for the national team with the addition one or two more naturalized players.
“I urge Congress to naturalize at the minimum two players identified by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas for the national team that would serve as back up to one another in case any one of them gets injured,” said Puno.
He mentioned the injury that forced Douthit to sit out Gilas’ final game against Iran.
“(We want) the Philippine national team to avoid the inconvenience of jeopardizing the whole program in the event of an injury to any of our two naturalized players,” he explained.
Among those in Gilas’ radar as naturalized backups are former PBA imports Denzel Bowles and Michael Dunigan. Both have expressed willingness to play for the Phl national team.
Of course, Gilas can field only one naturalized player in a FIBA tourney.
Qatar and Lebanon are two Asian teams that emerged Asian powers with their pool of naturalized players. Qatar has Jarvis Hayes, Trey Johnson and Boney Watson while Lebanon has naturalized Joe Vogel, Jackson Vroman and Loren Woods.
In the just-concluded Asian meet, the Philippines, Qatar, Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea, Bahrain and Kazakhstan all played with a naturalized reinforcement.
In his privilege speech, Puno mentioned Russia and Germany and Spain as world powers that have availed of the FIBA rule allowing naturalized players.
“Naturalization has become a key element in international basketball competitions and FIBA member countries across the globe have lost no time in naturalizing foreign basketball players to boost their stock,” he said.
He said it’s also the case for Gilas which got tremendous boost from Douthit.
Puno said Congress can claim to have concretely contributed to the victory with the approval of House Bill 2307 during the 15th Congress.
Co-authoring the bill were Reps. Jun Tupas, Pidi Barzaga, Dennis Socrates, Gabriel Quisumbing, Nelson Dayanghirang, Jorge Almonte, Rommel Amatong, Rod Antonino, PJ Garcia, Benhur Salimbangon, Emil Ong, Manuel Agyao, Agapito Guanlao, Rodante Marcoleta, Angelo Palmones, Bong Bravo, Anton Lagdameo, Roger Mercado, Lucy Torres-Gomez, Dan Fernandez, Nancy Catamco, Randolph Ting, Arnulfo Go, Cesar Jalosjos, Mark Sambar, Bambi Emano, Mark Enverga and Miro Quimbo.