Guiao supports creating pool of naturalized players for Gilas

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2020 05:22 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- Creating a pool of naturalized players is a necessity for the country's national team program, according to former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao.

In an online coaching seminar, Guiao pointed out that the Philippines is allowed to naturalize multiple players -- something that other countries have been doing for quite a while now.

"Sa Congress naman, pwede namang gawin 'yun eh. And some other countries are doing that. Hindi nga some other, a lot of other countries are doing that. They have two, three, four players they naturalize," said Guiao, who called the shots for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China.

"Let's give ourselves elbow room by naturalizing three, four, five players," he added. "Bahala na 'yung coach kung sino gusto niyang dalhin for a certain tournament."

When Guiao coached the national team, they had Andray Blatche as their naturalized player. However, earlier this year the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas said it was ready to move on from Blatche and instead tap the services of other players.

Among those is Ateneo de Manila University's Ange Kouame, who has been the defensive anchor of the Blue Eagles for their last two UAAP championships. Antipolo Representative Robbie Puno, who is also the SBP vice chairman, has pushed for his naturalization.

Guiao agrees with Kouame's naturalization, saying: "He's young and maybe you can use him in the Southeast Asian Games. Maybe you can use him for some windows, the windows where we just play Asian teams, and give him experience."

"And then, you can naturalize some other players, maybe some ex-NBA players or some players who we feel can help us in the short-term," he added.

Other naturalization candidates are Barangay Ginebra's Justin Brownlee and Chris McCullough, who led San Miguel Beer to the PBA Commissioner's Cup title last season. Both players have expressed their commitment to the national team program. Brownlee even practiced with Gilas Pilipinas ahead of the SEA Games last year.

McCullough, for his part, has not been quiet on social media about his desire to play for the Philippines.

Guiao is in full support of the SBP's plan to form a pool of naturalized players -- including Brownlee and McCullough -- as he knows full well the difficulties of relying on just one player.

"I guess, it's … giving ourselves more options, and at the same time, having control of our naturalized players' situation," he said. "Kumuha tayo ng marami."

"Mag-naturalize tayo ng tatlo or apat, para kung 'yung isa medyo may problema, o kaya playing hard to get or may kung anu-anong dahilan or kaya na-injure, meron tayong ibang pagpipilian," he further explained. "Hindi naman kailangan isa lang. We can naturalize three or four."

"So let's not put our eggs in one basket, sa isang player lang na i-naturalize natin."

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