MANILA, Philippines – Getting naturalized citizens to play for a national basketball team is just part of the globalization of the sport, according to longtime PBA commentator Joaquin “Quinito” Henson.
This is why there’s no need to react negatively about the proposal to get the NBA’s Javale McGee and Andray Blatche naturalized, he said.
Henson pointed out that even Gilas Pilipinas’ competitors in Groub B at the FIBA Worlds have naturalized citizens in their rosters.
“In the Philippines’ bracket, the naturalized players from opposing teams are Croatia’s Dontaye Draper of the College of Charleston, Puerto Rico’s John Holland of Boston University, Senegal’s Louis Adams of South Carolina State and Greece’s Giannis Antetokounmpo of Nigeria. A naturalized player who may be activated for Puerto Rico instead of Holland is Richard Chaney,” Henson said in his Philippine Star column Sporting Chance.
“Only Argentina won’t enlist a naturalized player because the national team is overloaded with talent like Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Carlos Delfino, Pablo Prigioni and Andres Nocioni,” he added.
Henson noted that back in the 1980s, FIBA even allowed competing teams to field two naturalized players. Today, each team can field only one naturalized player per tournament.
Gilas Pilipinas currently has Marcus Douthit.
Antipolo City Rep. Robbie Puno recently filed House Bill 3784 and House Bill 3783 seeking the naturalization of Denver Nuggets’ McGee and Brooklyn Net’s Blatche.
Puno is hoping that the two would be included in the Gilas pool so the team will have more options for the FIBA Worlds.
The Philippines also tapped naturalized players during past FIBA tournaments, Henson said, noting that back in the 1980s, tghe country had two naturalized players at the 1985 FIBA Asia Championship.
“At the 1985 FIBA-Asia Championships in Kuala Lumpur, the Philippines coached by Ron Jacobs won the title behind two naturalized players Jeff Moore and Dennis Still," the popular sports analyst said.
"Chip Engelland was then serving residency and would’ve been eligible to play for the national squad in 1987. At the Jones Cup in 1985, the Philippines won over the US in overtime with Moore, Still and Engelland because the Taiwan tournament wasn’t supervised by FIBA and allowed an unlimited number of imports,” he added.