'Puso': Romualdez hopeful Brownlee can lift Gilas as naturalization bid gets passed

House Speaker Martin Romualdez couldn't help but cite the old Gilas Pilipinas battle cry of "puso" after the plenary gave its final approval to the naturalization bid of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) import Justin Donta Brownlee.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez (left) gets an autograph from Gilas Pilipinas prospect Justin Brownlee (Speaker’s office)

With a vote of 274-0-1 (yes-no-abstain), House Bill (HB) No.6224 was approved on third and final reading during session Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 29. Brownlee was present at the plenary.

"This is the House's humble contribution to the national basketball team's quest for glory in the FIBA World Cup. Anything is possible if you put our heart or 'puso' into it," Romualdez, Leyte’s 1st district representative, said in a statement after the bill's passage.

"Speaking of puso, we commend Justin for his desire in joining Gilas Pilipinas in this path, to represent the Philippines which is his home in this corner of the world," Romualdez added.

Brownlee, 34, originally from Georgia in the United States (US) has been very forthcoming about his plans of suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team. As such, his naturalization bid was pursued by lawmakers.

"Justin Donta Brownlee is hereby granted Philippine citizenship with all rights, privileges and prerogatives, as well as the duties and obligations appurtenant thereto, under the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of the Philippines," read HB No.6224.

The measure mandates that Brownlee, an import of Barangay Ginebra in the PBA, "shall take the Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines before an officer duly authorized to administer the same".

"The Oath of Allegiance shall be registered with with Bureau of Immigration," it added.

"Upon registration of the Oath of Allegiance, the Bureau of Immigration shall issue a Certificate of Naturalization to Justin Donta Brownlee who shall thereupon enter into the full enjoyment of Philippine citizenship," it further said.

One of the proponents of Brownlee's Philippine naturalization in the House, 1-Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero, has laid out before the plenary the 6'6" basketball player's achievements and credentials in the local professional hoops league.

“Throughout Mr. Brownlee’s very decorated and illustrious career in the PBA, he was able to attain five PBA championships and two Best Import awards with the career averages of 28.9 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, 5.6 assists per game, 1.9 steals per game, and 1.7 blocks per game. He is also the first PBA import to record 400+ 3 pointers made and ranks 1st among PBA imports for 3 points made with 404 as of July 24, 2022. Lastly, he ranks as fifth in the all-time PBA imports scoring leaders with 4,539 points as of April 2022,” he said.

Romero said that with Brownlee, Gilas Pilipinas Men’s Basketball team with “a truly dependable ally in their quest to proudly represent our country in the upcoming February 2023 sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers which will be hosted by the Philippines, and the FIBA World Cup 2023″.