‘Focus on priorities’

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Friday, February 7, 2014


“DON’T give people false hope,” warned basketball legend Ramon “El Presidente” Fernandez on the naturalization proceedings of NBA players JaValee McGee of the Denver Nuggets and Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets through a congressional act.

Fernandez also said that while he is not totally against naturalization, he feels this is not the right time and that the basketball officials of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) need to get their priorities straight. And that should be a long-term basketball program.

The four-time PBA MVP said he is not going to join his fellow University of San Carlos Warriors alumnus and Dean of the College of Law of University of Cebu Baldomero Estenzo in signing a petition seeking the rejection of the bill filed by Antipolo Rep. Robbie Puno to give Filipino citizenships to McGee and Blatche through congressional act.

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“All I want to stress is that what they are doing (naturalization of NBA players) is a just a short-term program. And this will never guarantee to get us a slot to the Top 3. It’s not the solution. Don’t give the people false hopes,” Fernandez told Sun.Star Cebu.

Fernandez said that having either McGee or Blatche in the Gilas Pilipinas line-up to the Fiba World Cup in Spain in September does not guarantee a victory.

The Philippines is grouped in bracket B along with Argentina, Croatia, Greece, Puerto Rico and Senegal.

“I am not totally against naturalization of any player, but what I don’t like is that it is not the right time. This (naturalization) should be put in a proper perspective. Dili nato dali-dalion. Granting they are given the citizenship, then after the World Cup, what happens? What happens to their citizenship? What does it contribute to our basketball program? We should know where we stand.

In my opinion, they should keep the team (who played in the Fiba-Asia tournament), send them to the World Cup, let them play, enjoy, gain experience make sure they would give their best for the country,” Fernandez continued.

Fernandez added that giving citizenship to McGee and Blatche does not guarantee them a slot to the Gilas line-up as only one naturalized player is allowed per team in the FIba tournament. The Gilas team already has naturalized player Marcus Douthit in the 24-man pool.

“Playing in the World Cup or in the Olympics is already a bonus. Let’s keep our feet on the ground. Let’s focus on our program, on our priorities. We should focus in the Asian level, which gives us a slot to the world or the Olympics.

Sa Asia pa lang gani maglisod na ta. Having a naturalized player is good but as I said it is a short cut solution, we should look at the long-term solution. We should start at the very young age at the school level. Start giving the basics at the tender age,” Fernandez said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2014.

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