Isaiah Austin's naturalization hangs in balance
MANILA, Philippines – Isaiah Austin's chances of being Gilas' next naturalized player hang in the balance.
Austin, who played as an import in Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas' 5th-place finish in the recently concluded FIBA Asia Champions Cup, has been touted to join Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche as the Philippines' naturalized players.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said in a national team send-off Saturday, November 18, that Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas vice chairman Robbie Puno is handling the paperwork of the former Baylor University star's naturalization, but noted that the process will take time.
"Realistically, we don't see Isaiah being available. I think the earliest is going to be middle of next year. Perhaps in the June window. But things are moving. He has cooperated. He has expressed his desire so that's that," Reyes said of Austin, who is currently playing in Taiwan.
But Puno clarified that while Austin is at the forefront of the naturalization program, they cannot just pull the trigger since it is a "tedious" and "very expensive" process.
"As we naturalize players, the more we naturalize, the more difficult it becomes because the argument that we are frequently confronted with is the argument that we have too many naturalized players," Puno said.
Puno added that former Pampanga congressman and present NLEX Road Warriors coach Yeng Guiao even said that the naturalization program should be a "temporary fix" to the Gilas situation.
"We can't naturalize indefinitely. There's got to be a time that it is going to stop. There is a question there in Congress as to when it is going to stop."
"We have to be very careful with whom we decide to launch this program for. Whenever we launch this naturalization program, it includes a lot of things. Not just the bills that we file but also a lot of support." – Rappler.com