SBP still on lookout for next naturalized player | Inquirer Sports

SBP still on lookout for next naturalized player

/ 02:18 PM December 15, 2017

Andray Blatche. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.net

Andray Blatche may still be at his peak right now, but Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) acknowledges that the Syracuse native is now battling time.

That’s why the association has is prepared to endorse next naturalized candidate who could represent the country in international tournaments.

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But they just haven’t decided on who to take that next step with.

“At this point in time, we do not have any particular player yet. My understanding is we’re still looking for the best possible candidate,” said SBP vice chairman Robbie Puno on Thursday.

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“Right now, we’re ready to spearhead that process. We’ve spoken with a couple of congressmen who will author the bill. But what we’re waiting for is the imprimatur as to who we will really make the effort to naturalize, because when you start that process, it becomes really difficult,” he said.

Blatche has represented the Philippines as its naturalized player for the better part of the last three years, but the SBP has meticulously tried to find a contingency plan and kept an eye on a few prospects.

One of them is Isaiah Austin, who suited up for Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas in the 2017 Fiba Asia Champions Cup and impressed with his averages of 20.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.1 blocks, and 2.4 assists.

Puno, who authored the bills for the naturalization of Blatche and Fil-German forward Christian Standhardinger previously, said that the Philippines hosting the 2023 Fiba World Cup should be taken at the highest of considerations as SBP looks to field possibly one of the strongest national teams in six years’ time.

“If our target is 2023, there will be probably enough time for us to make sure we have the right player in terms of his basketball skills, his age, as well as his attitude,” he said.

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TAGS: 2023 Fiba World Cup, Andray Blatche, Isaiah Austin, Naturalization, Robbie Puno
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