GILAS Pilipinas’ plans to naturalize one more American basketball player received lukewarm reception from Cebu basketball luminaries.
The most scathing comment came from lawyer Baldomero Estenzo, the dean of the University of Cebu Law School.
Estenzo, who once was awarded as Motivator of the Year by the Philippine Collegiate Champions League (PCCL) in 2011, is condemning the action of Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes for seeking a congressional act to have either JaVale McGee or Andray Blatche become naturalized Filipinos for the Fiba World Cup in September in Spain.
“We will definitely file our opposition to their naturalization by congressional act.
Gi-duwa-duwaan ra nila ang atong citizenship. (Anyway) bisan og moduwa na sila (McGee and Blatche), dili man gyud ta ma champion,” Estenzo told Sun.Star Cebu.
Multi-titled coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba of the Southwestern University Cobras, for
his part, believes that having either McGee or Blatche in the line-up could give the Philippines a good chance of making the quarterfinal round.
“If they could sign up the two players, we will have a good chance to enter the quarterfinals,” Alcoseba said.
But for UV Green Lancers head coach Felix “Donbel”Belano Jr., naturalizing McGee or Blatche will have its advantages and disadvantages.
“Ang advantage is Gilas can compete with the other teams because they would have young and tall players in the center. But the disadvantage is that may papalitan na big man na pure Filipino player na makakuha na unta og good exposure sa world basketball,” Belano said.
According to Reyes, Antipolo Rep. Roberto “Robbie” Puno had already filed two bills for the naturalization of McGee and Blatche. Puno was also responsible for making Marcus Douthit a naturalized Filipino citizen in 2010.
For Estenzo, he will be asking others to join him in opposing the plan.
“This time I will ask the law students to join our opposition (to granting Filipino citizenship to the two NBA players). It’s a shame anyway, because when they play in the PBA they will be playing as imports. Naa diay import nga Filipino citizen?
Granting citizenship to a person is sacred. Our Constitution said that they need 10 years residency, or five years under special circumstances. Know how to speak our dialect and many more. What they are doing through congressional act is a short cut,” said Estenzo.
Estenzo and the Cesafi officials tried to stop the passage of the law that granted Filipino citizenship to Douthit, drafted by Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, but failed.
If either McGee or Blatche will be granted Filipino citizenship, they will be included in the 24-man pool along with Douthit, who had served the country in international competitions.
But only one naturalized player can see action in Fiba tournaments.