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Cone: Boatwright just like Brownlee


Tim Cone had just found the future “Justin Brownlee.”

The Gilas Pilipinas coach bared that former San Miguel Beer reinforcement Bennie Boatwright will be a perfect fit for the national squad for having the same qualities as their naturalized player — Brownlee.

Cone admitted that he has yet to personally talk to Boatwright, who is already in the process of completing all pertinent documents after being identified by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to be a candidate for naturalization.

If and when his application for naturalization gets granted by the lawmakers and signed into law by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., he will be the country’s fourth naturalized player, joining Brownlee, National Basketball Association player Jordan Clarkson and former Ateneo de Manila University star Ange Kouame in the pool.

But Cone said it’s still a long way to go.

“As far as I know, we already had an agreement and he is sending papers to get naturalized. This will be a long process,” Cone said.

“It took Justin a long time to get his. He was excited about doing it.”

Boatwright has what it takes to join Gilas Pilipinas.

After coming in as a replacement for Ivan Aska, the 27-year-old former University of Southern California star made his presence felt, leading the Beermen to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup title.

In his 13 games in the PBA, he piled averages of 30.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists to draw the attention of the Cone and the federation.

But what excites Cone about Boatwright is his striking similarities with Brownlee due to his versatility and character.

“I was the one who asked for him. I think he’s a tremendous talent. He’s got great size and he can play in and out. He’s versatile. He reminds me of a younger Justin, just three to four inches taller,” said Cone, referring to his resident import who gave him six PBA titles at Barangay Ginebra.

“He’s a young guy but we have to get him into practice and into the system. It’s a long way away.”

Cone said he doesn’t expect Boatwright to be part of the team right away.

He said the role of the naturalized player in International Basketball Federation events still belongs to Brownlee. Boatwright, however, can step in just in case something happens to Brownlee or if the federation decides to use multiple number of naturalized players in events like the Southeast Asian Games or the Asian Games.

“Justin is going to be the main guy but if we can get him into practice and involved in the system so if something, God forbid, happened to Justin, he can be ready to step in,” Cone said.

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