I understand the fanaticism that most Filipinos display over the game of basketball, but do we have to sell our soul to the devil by naturalizing tall foreign players, who doesn’t have any trace of Filipino blood in their veins, to play for the country just so they could give a semblance of strength to the Philippine team in international competition?
This issue is being debated now even as bills have been filed in congress to grant citizenship to both NBA players JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche so they may form part of the Philippine national team that will be participating in the FIBA World Cup in Spain in summer.
I am not questioning the ethicality of this move because this is being done in other countries, but, rather, I am disputing the rationality of this action by some of our local and national basketball officials, and even politicians, who are bent on giving these foreign players Filipino citizenship as easy as picking up the basketball.
What do we have to gain by acquiring these two tall foreign players when only one naturalized player is allowed to play for a team during FIBA tournaments and the rest of the team cannot compare with the overall height and strength of the team they are playing against?
Yes, the rest of the team may be talented as they have been chosen for being the cream of the crop in their respective professional team, but in the game of basketball, height is might and heftiness/physique of a player makes a lot of difference in inside plays.
C’mon, we simply do not have what it takes to compete in international basketball events where countries from Argentina to the USA are fielding their best world class players who have been playing as a team for a long time representing their country.
Admittedly, some of these countries invite and naturalize a couple of American and European players, too, to play for them, but it already has a strong home team to start with, which can give the other competing teams a run for the gold.
Alas, the same cannot be said of our national team.
Let us just admit that in this day and age, it is foolish, at best, and ludicrous, at worst, to strive for recognition in international basketball events.
If only because Gilas Pilipinas, coached by Chot Reyes, qualified for the FIBA World Cup, then, by all means, we participate – height, weight, color and all – and try our best and never say die, as Filipinos are known for, and forget about granting citizenship to a foreign national player that will only give the country false hopes.