Home Sports Bennie Boatwright the next naturalized player for Gilas

Bennie Boatwright the next naturalized player for Gilas


Bennie Boatwright San Miguel Beermen Gilas Pilipinas

San Miguel Beermen import Bennie Boatwright during Game 2 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals against Magnolia Hotshots.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Gilas Pilipinas will add another name to its pool of naturalized players in the coming weeks, picking the last import that has endeared himself to the Filipino basketball fans.

Bennie Boatwright, who helped San Miguel Beer win the last PBA Commissioner’s Cup, has agreed in principle to be the next naturalized player for the Gilas Five, the Inquirer learned from an unimpeachable source during the Holy Week.

“Yes, (Bennie) Boatwright has agreed to play for us (Philippines) as a naturalized player,” the source, who requested not to be identified at the moment, said.
“The SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) will start his naturalization process soon.”

READ: June Mar Fajardo returns, forms a lethal tandem with Boatwright at San Miguel

Having Boatwright aboard doesn’t mean that Justin Brownlee will be stricken off the 12-man list that coach Tim Cone came up with for the four-year SBP plan that would hopefully take the Philippines to the World Cup and Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

The presence of the former USC Trojan in the US NCAA is just to make sure that Cone will have the flexibility to have a dependable naturalized player in case an injury hits the team.

Right now, aside from Brownlee, Gilas can also tap Ange Kouame and Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz in the NBA.

READ: Like in any other basketball team, no one is indispensable at Gilas

The SBP source also said that having Boatwright can enable the Philippines to send beefed up rosters as allowed by regional tournaments like the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games where host nations dictate the format of the basketball tournament.

In the last SEA Games, host Cambodia finished second by having a roster that was almost made up of naturalized players. The Cambodians beat the Filipinos in group play only for Gilas to claim the gold in an enthralling finale.

Justin Brownlee Gilas Pilipinas

Justin Brownlee takes a selfie with the fans after Gilas Pilipinas’ open practice at Philsports Arena in Pasig.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

“Just like in the last Asiad, we can have multiple naturalized players,” the source said after recounting how Kouame played a big supporting role to Brownlee who was the hero in the semifinal game against host China.

Boatwright is playing in the China pro league with the Shanxi Loongs, and the Inquirer source made it clear that, at the moment, Brownlee remains to be Cone’s top man for the lone naturalized player’s spot that Fiba allows for its windows.

Cone, however, is aware that Brownlee—and some of the PBA superstar veterans on the Gilas pool—will be pushing 40 by the time the next World Cup in Qatar comes.

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And the SBP and Cone planning for that by starting the Boatwright naturalization makes perfect sense.

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