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05-15-2012, 10:03 PM
Bill to naturalize NBA player JaVale McGee filed

By Nelson Beltran, philstar.com
Posted at 05/15/2012 5:39 PM | Updated as of 05/15/2012 7:10 PM


MANILA, Philippines – Determined in his effort to help boost the country’s standing in the international stage, Rep. Robbie Puno has filed in Congress a bill seeking to grant NBA player JaVale McGee Filipino citizenship that will enable him to play for Smart Gilas Pilipinas.

Puno, the Antipolo District I representative in the Lower House, filed at 6:45 p.m. yesterday House Bill No. 6169 aimed at making the Denver Nugget center a naturalized Filipino.

Puno was the same lawmaker who worked for the naturalization of Marcus Douthit also through legislation (Republic Act 10148).

“This bill is in tune with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ new program maximizing the eligibility of a naturalized player, McGee being only 24 years old,” said Puno.

“With the approval of this bill, our country could have two naturalized players who would contribute effective development to the team. The two of them would practice against each other, and also would serve as backup player to each other in case any one of them gets injured,” Puno added.

“The addition of another naturalized player would ensure continuity in the program that was started with Marcus Douthit,” Puno also said.

Puno cited what the country has gained since Douthit’s addition in the Phl team.

He mentioned Smart Gilas’ fourth-place finish in the last Fiba Asia championship, narrowly missing a spot in the World Olympic Qualifier. The outright spot to the Olympics went to tournament champion China.

Puno said he’s one with SBP in its bid to sustain the momentum of their strong 2009 Asian joust showing.

“It is for this purpose that this bill seeks to grant Philippine citizenship to JaVale McGee,” he said.

“Given his remarkable track record in the US pro league, McGee will no doubt be a great asset to our country if given a chance to play for the Philippine team. McGee is widely regarded as the only NBA player eligible for naturalization since majority of NBA centers have played for other national teams,” Puno also said.

“Finally, McGee has genuinely expressed his willingness to play for the Philippine team,” Puno added.

Puno hopes they can work on McGee’s naturalization in time for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship which serves as the qualifier for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

“We’ll try to have his naturalization ready for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. If not, the important thing is he eventually makes it and we have the option to field the best possible players,” Puno said.

Naturalization through legislation is a tedious process, which in the case of Douthit took two years to finish. Still, it’s the easier way compared to administrative and through the courts which both require residency.

McGee expressed interest to play for the Philippines after seeing the country and the Filipino people when he joined a group of NBA stars who played Smart Gilas Pilipinas in an exhibition match last year.

He returned later to sign a contract as Smart product endorser.

He received invitations to the US national team camp in 2009 and 2010 but failed to make the roster.

The Flint, Michigan native was the Washington Wizards’ No. 18 pick overall in 2008 out of University of Nevada in Reno.

He dreams to play in the Olympics and/or the world championship, hoping to realize this with the Philippine team.

“If we don’t naturalize McGee, it is most certain that another country will,” said Puno.
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Sam Miguel
05-17-2012, 10:24 AM
Finally, a legit NBA player who can rebound, block shots and defend the lane. And a true 7-footer at that. Javale Mcgee however can be even less focused and as infuriating as Andrew Bynum. If only Mcgee would get his full act together he could be among the best players in the world. His size, length and athletic prowess are beyond question. Unfortunately it is his attitude that is questionable. No, he is not on the same level as Roy Tarpley and Derrick Coleman, but he does tend to play at less than his best at least half the time. That is something the coaches of Gilas will have to address if we are to maximize Mcgee.