Senator Sonny Angara has filed a counterpart bill for the naturalization of American professional basketball player Justin Donta Brownlee as part of his commitment to support the continuous development of the Philippine national basketball program.
Angara, chairman of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), previously expressed his willingness to start the process of naturalizing Brownlee and possibly another foreign player to bulk up the roster of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team.
“We all know the capabilities of Brownlee on the basketball court and can only imagine the great things he can do as a member of our Gilas Pilipinas team. Justin has demonstrated his strong desire to be part of the national team—having played and lived in the Philippines for over five years as an import of Barangay Ginebra in the PBA,” Angara said as he filed Senate Bill No. 1516.
Another senator who filed a similar bill was Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, filing Senate Bill No. 1336. Both measures will be referred to the Senate Committee on Justice headed by Senator Francis Tolentino.
Angara said there is some urgency in finalizing the naturalization of Brownlee as the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers would be held in February next year.
The Justice Committee of the House of Representatives has already approved its own version of the naturalization bill for Brownlee.
“Malaki ang maitutulong ni Brownlee sa ating Gilas Pilipinas. Bilang isang fan din ng basketball, talagang nakakabilib din ang mga nagawa na niya sa PBA. Two-time best import siya; naka limang titulo na siya bilang import ng Barangay Ginebra; at kabilang na siya sa pinakamagagaling na import sa kasaysayan ng PBA (Brownlee will be of great help to our Gilas Pilipinas. As a basketball fan as well, what he has done in the PBA is also really impressive. He is a two-time best import; he already has five titles as an import of Barangay Ginebra; and he is among the best imports in the history of the PBA),” Angara said.
Once his naturalization is approved, Angara said Brownlee is expected to reinforce the Gilas Pilipinas team in February when it goes up against Lebanon and Jordan in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
He said Brownlee’s presence in the February games is critical due to the unavailability of Jordan Clarkson, who will still be fulfilling his commitments with the Utah Jazz in the NBA.