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Brownlee nears naturalization

I banged my knee up the previous game, so I had to sit out, but coming to practice is fun.

It’s only a matter of time before Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import Justin Brownlee could officially play for Gilas Pilipinas in major international tournaments.

Gilas team manager Butch Antonio said Brownlee’s application for naturalization is gaining ground, giving them hopes that he will be available when they compete in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers that will be played in the country in February next year.

Gilas will face Lebanon in a much-anticipated rematch on 24 February before taking on Jordan on 27 February at the Philippine Arena — the site of the final leg of the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Antonio said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas had already secured all the required documents being asked by the Congress and the Senate with no less than Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero and Senator Ronald de la Rosa committing to expedite his application to become a Filipino citizen.

“We’re getting there,” Antonio, also the federation’s deputy executive director, said.

“We have already secured the documents needed, probably majority of what’s being required.”

A two-time Best Import awardee, Brownlee has been regularly practicing with Gilas Pilipinas, which will play a pair of road games in Saudi Arabia and Jordan next month.

He said he is excited to represent the country so he is joining the weekly training at the Meralco Gym despite nursing an injured knee.

“I banged my knee up the previous game, so I had to sit out, but coming to practice is fun,” Brownlee told Daily Tribune in an interview.

“It’s not too heavy, not too much impact in the legs or body, but I love being around the team. The coaches are great.”

If their applications materialize, Brownlee and TNT Tropang Giga import Oliver will join National Basketball Association stalwart Jordan Clarkson and Ateneo de Manila University standout Angelo Kouame in the roster of naturalized players who will take turns in reinforcing Gilas in the world stage.

Brownlee said he hopes his presence in training will motivate his teammates, most of them are star players of Ginebra, San Miguel Beer and TNT Tropang Giga as well as Filipino imports in Japan.
“I pride myself being a good person and I also pride myself in practice working hard, trying to set a good example for the team,” he said.

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