Gilas call-up an easy one to answer for Boatwright
AS NATURALIZED PLAYER

Gilas call-up an easy one to answer for Bennie Boatwright

/ 05:20 AM April 20, 2024

Bennie Boatwright Jr.

The versatile Bennie Boatwright Jr. can play the stretch big role for Gilas Pilipinas. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Bennie Boatwright Jr. said that joining the Gilas Pilipinas program as a naturalized player was an easy decision to make.

“It was kind of a no-brainer, you know,” he told a few reporters on Friday afternoon, along the sidelines of the San Miguel-Converge clash at PhilsPorts Arena in Pasig City.

“It started with some of the players mentioning me. And then after we played Ginebra [in the last conference’s semifinals]. Boss Al (Francis Chua) asked me whether I was interested. And I said, ‘for sure.’ Ever since then, the ball has been rolling,” he went on.

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Boatwright Jr. is back in Manila after a short stint in the Chinese Basketball Association to personally work on his bid to become a naturalized Filipino.

“I’ve been moving around, going to different interviews, to police stations and the [National Bureau of Investigation], and some medical exams. We’re just working on the process,” he said.

Boatwright Jr. has been tapped by the Gilas Pilipinas brain trust, headed by the seasoned Tim Cone, as the latest addition to its naturalized players pool. Should he secure Filipino citizenship, Boatwright Jr. joins the indefatigable Justin Brownlee, Utah Jazz ace Jordan Clarkson, and Ateneo star Ange Kouame as special reinforcements for international competitions.

PBA stint helped

The American stretch big, who was integral in San Miguel’s run-up to the Commissioner’s Cup title, said he would’ve looked at the pitch differently without his San Miguel stint.

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“If I didn’t play here, it would’ve been [a hard decision]. But now that I’ve played here and experienced the people and all the love, it’s an easy decision.”

As a youngster, Boatwright Jr. used to hear stories about playing in the Philippines through his godfather Francois Wise, an import for several clubs like U-Tex and Tanduay.

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READ: Boatwright naturalization for Gilas for faces long wait

Now a part of PBA lore himself and hopefully Gilas as well, the 27-year-old California native is studying Brownlee, the Asian Games hero, and everything about the Gilas program.

“It’s been a great feeling,” he said when asked about following in the footsteps of Brownlee. “I’ve been researching what he has accomplished [for the program] and everybody’s bringing me up to date with what’s going on and I’m excited.”

Boatwright Jr. said he is looking forward to having a chance to make his own contributions.

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“I’ll bring my best foot forward. I’m excited to play.”

TAGS: Bennie Boatwright Jr., Gilas Pilipinas

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