Justin Brownlee playing for Gilas? It’s an option, Yeng Guiao says

Yeng Guiao says Justin Brownlee’s application for naturalization is being processed in Congress, which could pave the way for him to play for the Philippines. File/PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines—There are several options for the Philippine national team after a tough home stand in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.

The Filipinos bowed to Kazakhstan and Iran to drop to 5-5 in Group F, putting their chances of playing in next year’s World Cup in peril. As it is, they will be in a must-win situation come February, when they take on Qatar and Kazakhstan on the road in the final qualifying window.

According to national team head coach Yeng Guiao, naturalized player Andray Blatche remains an option for the team. Of course, they can also continue to field in Stanley Pringle and Christian Standhardinger, who played against Kazakhstan and Iran, respectively, in the fifth window.

There is, however, another option that is now available for Gilas Pilipinas: Ginebra hero Justin Brownlee.

“Nasa Congress na ‘yung papeles nya,” Guiao said of Brownlee, who had expressed his desire to be naturalized after leading the Gin Kings to the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup title.

“That’s an option we can consider. Nandoon na siya sa Congress. Siguro kung ipu-push nila ‘yun, baka magamit natin, mahabol,” he added.

Guiao acknowledged there have been no serious discussions yet regarding Brownlee, but it is definitely an option they can take.

“Nag-aantay, nag-e-expand tayo ng options natin, and that is an immediate option we can exercise,” said the coach.

Naturalizing Brownlee would give the team several options on who they can play, depending on who they are up against, said Guiao.

“Pwedeng mag-naturalize ng dalawang player, kamukha ng ginagawa natin kay Stanley at Christian. Pwede kang mamili, depende sa needs and situations,” he explained. “Those are the options.”

All these plans remain up in the air at the moment. What Guiao is sure of is that some changes need to be made in the national team program, including possibly forming a regular 15-man pool instead of switching players in every window.

“I already mentioned it to SBP,” he said. “Mukha namang agree sila. Instead na every window, may pool ka na, meron ka na talagang 15-man national team na pina-practice mo. ‘Yun na lang ang dinadala mo sa training at tune-ups. Kasi ganoon ang ginagawa ng mga kalaban natin.”

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