Greg Smith welcomes naturalization for Gilas
Seeking to find a backup for naturalized center Andray Blatche, Gilas Pilipinas may have found its man with Blackwater import Greg Smith.
Team owner Dioceldo Sy personally offered Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio the services of the 26-year-old big man in a short chat last week which ultimately led to the reinforcement participating on Thursday’s practice session at Meralco Gym.
“I was having a chat with Al last week and he told me his desire to have pool of foreign players as backup for Blatche. I told him that I think I can offer Greg because he’s one of good effort, a hardworker, and he has a good attitude,” he said.
Sy also shared that the 6-foot-10 Smith has been extremely interested in playing for the country, rooted from his fascination of exploring the islands and the Filipinos’ innate passion for basketball which he saw since he first arrived in the country back in 2013 with the Houston Rockets for the NBA Global Games.
“He went down to Cebu and loved the islands. He also loves basketball and I think that really made him fell in love with the Philippines. He’s very interested on being naturalized,” he said.
The Blackwater team owner bared that he will personally try to set an appointment with Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to get the ball rolling for Smith’s possible naturalization.
“Just talking to (Gilas team manager) Butch Antonio, I think he’s OK. It also depends on how coach Chot (Reyes) sees him fit with the squad,” he said. “We’ll try to set an appointment with Sec. Aguirre and we’ll see how fast he can be naturalized so that as soon as possible, we’ll have a backup option to Andray Blatche.”
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