Justin Brownlee is now waiting for the release of his Philippine passport before he could formally seal his Filipino citizenship and be eligible to represent the country in upcoming international tournaments.
In a press statement, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas revealed that the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import has yet to obtain a certification of naturalization from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation as well as acquire a Philippine passport from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Both documents, however, are expected to be secured in the next few days.
Bronwlee, a 34-year-old American from Georgia, formally completed his naturalization process following the signing of the Republic Act 11937 by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last Thursday.
Last Monday, he took his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen at the Senate before Sen. Francis Tolentino, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and in the presence of Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and JV Ejercito as well as Rep Juliet Marie de Leon Ferrer, the chairperson of Justice Committee of the House of Representatives.
Accompanying Brownlee, who is set to power Gilas Pilipinas in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, were Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios, deputy executive director Butch Antonio, and legal counsel Edgar Francisco.
“As a citizen, I will try my best to make the Filipino people proud. I want to keep making you guys proud and to do whatever I can to help the national team,” Brownlee said during the oath-taking ceremony that lasted for nearly two hours.
“I feel great and I’m pretty excited to be representing the country.”
Bronwnlee said playing for the country is truly special.
“Representing Ginebra, of course, is a huge thing; it’s a big deal as far as basketball is concerned over here in the Philippines,” he said.
“But representing the country is an even bigger deal. That’s why in that series (against Bay Area), it felt like we were representing the whole country.”
Plans to visit his family in the United States are on hold for Brownlee, with the PBA season-ending Govenors’ Cup kicking off this Sunday and Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes is about to start their once-a-week practice on Monday.
“I don’t think I have any time,” he said.
“Maybe if we have time, I would have.”
SBP president Al Panlilio thanked the Chief Executive, the House of Representatives and the Senate for the swift passage of Brownlee’s naturalization.
“We in the SBP thank the President, the Senate and the Lower House for approving the application of Justin Brownlee with dispatch so that he can serve the national team in time for the February Qualifiers,” Panlilio said.
“Our millions of basketball fans truly appreciate the resolve of our political leaders to make our national team more competitive at the international stage.”