Isaiah Austin to reinforce Gilas Pilipinas in 2018?
Paul Lintag on Nov 18, 2017 05:03 PM
The 7'1" center already sort of played for the country, leading Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas to a fifth place finish in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup a couple of months back. (FIBA)
It appears that Isaiah Austin has the inside track of becoming Gilas Pilipinas' next naturalized center to eventually replace Andray Blatche.
As of the moment of course.
During the national team's official send-off to Tokyo Saturdaty to start the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, team officials revealed that there is already a bill ready to process the naturalization of the former Baylor star.
However, that is only the start of a rather complicated, and expensive, process.
"We have a bill prepared [for Austin], but it has not been filed," Congressman Robbie Puno, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Vice Chairman, said.
"It's my understanding that we are waiting on the go-signal of two powers that be. That powers that be of the team and the powers of be in congress. The first step really is having a clear mandate for us to pursue the naturalization of Isaiah Austin and we do not have that yet," he added.
Puno, one of the key people responsible for the naturalization of Blatche and Marcus Douthit, says that the SBP is taking a methodical approach on Austin's situation.
With our country's naturalization process proving to be rather difficult, Gilas Pilipinas just wants to make sure that all bases are covered before proceeding.
"It's my understanding that they want to observe, they want to see other candidates because if and when we pull the trigger on this, it's a very tedious and difficult process," Puno said.
"What we don't want to do, is to file a bill and then pull it out like we did with Javale McGee and several other players, we don't want to go through that. As we naturalize players, the more we naturalize, the more difficult it becomes because the argument that we are frequently confronted with is the argument that we have too many naturalized players," he added.
Still, Austin is already getting a serious look from Gilas officials.
The 7'1" center already sort of played for the country, leading Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas to a fifth place finish in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup a couple of months back.
"As for Isaiah Austin, I think he's playing now in Taiwan. It is a work in progress, Mr. Puno is at the forefront of the paper work and as you all know, it takes time," head coach Chot Reyes said.
"Realistically, the earliest is middle of next year, perhaps in the June window if we ever decide. But things are moving, he's expressed his complete desire. That's that," he added.
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