Austin-powered Gilas? SBP hopes so


Isaiah Austin needs to past two major issues for him to become the next naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas.

First, Austin has to get the go signal from the Congress and Senate and eventually President Rodrigo Duterte for his naturalization process become a law.

And second, the lanky seven-foot-one center has to pass the medical issues that denied him the opportunity to become a lottery pick in the National Basketball Association (NBA) three years ago.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios said the 23-year old Austin is in the radar of head coach Chot Reyes to become the team’s naturalized player.

But as what the SBP experienced with Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche, it will take time for the former Baylor University standout to wear the Philippine colors as it depends on the legislative branch if it will expedite the process.

“Austin is being considered a candidate for naturalization, but nothing is final yet. He has the height and the talent. He looks promising but he will undergo physical examinations first,” Barrios told The Manila Times on Wednesday.

Austin was projected to be a lottery pick in the 2014 NBA Draft but was diagnosed with a heart ailment (marfan syndrome) that put him out of competitive basketball.

But late last year, Austin was able to get medical clearance and got offers to play abroad. His first stop was in Serbia and was signed by Guangxi Rhinos of China.

Reyes, in previous interviews, said that Austin has been in his radar for a long while and only two months ago talks of playing for Gilas Pilipinas were revived.

Austin arrived on Tuesday night as he was commissioned by Reyes to beef up the Chooks-to-Go Gilas Pilipinas club in the coming International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Champions Cup set on September 22 to 30 in Chenzhou, China.

“That’s our plan for him to reinforce us for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Then let’s see what’s the decision of coach Chot (Reyes),” said Barrios.

Austin was expected to join Gilas training on Wednesday along with Jeron Teng, Andre Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Carl Bryan Cruz, Raymar Jose, Achie Inigo, Jett Manuel and Nigerian Bright Ekhuetie.

The Chooks-to-Go Gilas Pilipinas is in Bracket A and will face BC Astana of Kazakhstan in the opener on the 22nd, Sarreyyet Ramallah of Lebanon on the 23rd and Mono Vimpires of Thailand on the 26th.


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