Meralco's Brian Butch (L) dribbles to the basket against San Miguel Beermen's Josh Boone (R). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Meralco import Brian Butch is flattered to have been considered for naturalization for the Philippine national basketball team, although he insists that he is now completely focused on playing for the Bolts.
The 6-foot-11 Butch was a possible naturalization candidate for Gilas before they eventually went with Marcus Douthit, according to the PBA website. [http://pba.inquirer.net/42914/a-big-welcome-for-the-polar-bear]
“Flattery is the right word,” Butch told PBA.ph when asked about the naturalization talks. “There’s no word to explain how the idea of me being considered as a naturalization candidate for the Philippines makes me feel.”
“It’s a great honor, and I have to go out there and play well. I know the people know the skill set that I have, but if I don’t go out there and play well, none of that really matters,” he added.
It’s unsure if Butch will even be qualified for naturalization, as he was part of a United States team that participated in the 2011 Pan American Games.
Nonetheless, he said playing for the Philippine team would be “fantastic,” thanks to the passion that Filipinos have for the game.
“I’d love to play for the national team. I think it would be something great. I know how excited the people get about the game, and to play for the people would be fantastic,” he said.
“They’re crazy in a good way, because they love the game so much,” he added. ‘You can see how passionate they are about it, and I can relate to that because that’s how I play the game. I play with passion and energy and that’s the same with them and their teams when they cheer.”
For now, however, Butch is focused on the Bolts, who currently hold a 2-1 record in the ongoing Commissioners Cup.
“If something like that (naturalization) would happen, it would be exciting and a great opportunity. But right now, I worry on what I can control, and that is to give wins for Meralco,” he said.
Butch was spectacular in Meralco’s come-from-behind win against GlobalPort last Saturday, scoring 42 points to go along with 24 rebounds. He was 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, 6-of-11 from the two-point area, and 12-of-15 from the free throw line in 44 minutes of action.
“The Philippines has been great,” said Butch. “The basketball and the fans are fantastic. It’s just a great experience. Everywhere you go, everyone’s been welcoming and it’s been a great experience so far.”