Chot mulls naturalization of PBA imports for Gilas

By Nelson Beltran

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Coach Josh Reyes. FIBA.com Photo

MANILA, Philippines - A Fil-foreign player, playing outside the PBA, may join the Gilas Pilipinas pool from which two separate teams will be formed to compete in the FIBA Asia Cup and in the Southeast Asian Games late this year.

“Coach Josh (Reyes) and our other coaches have been talking to their friends,” said Gilas team manager Butch Antonio on the possibility of a Fil-foreign player coming on board to beef up the pool.

“In case of Fil-foreign players, they’re automatically eligible to play for our team but as a naturalized player,” Antonio pointed out.

Naturalized player Andray Blatche is expected to arrive in the next few days to suit up for Gilas in the SEABA Championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on May 12-18. He’s likely to return later on to also don the national jersey in the FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut in August.

 A Fil-foreign player coming over and playing as a naturalized player of Team Phl in the SEA Games in Malaysia in August is also a possibility.

Dontee Greene and Greg Smith are among PBA imports who have expressed willingness to undergo naturalization process for a chance to suit up with Gilas.

But naturalization through legislation is a long process and Gilas coach Chot Reyes is realistic they can’t consider these imports in their coming international competitions.

Recommended by the Blackwater management, Smith showed up in the Gilas practice session at the Meralco Gym Thursday night. Greene had had his earlier workout with Gilas. 

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