Naturalized players in spotlight in FIBA-Asia tournament

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AFTER the Federation International de Basketball Association (FIBA)

allowed naturalized players to see action in its sanctioned tournaments
in 1997, many countries, the Philippines included, have recruited the semi-imports
to boost their line-ups

No less than nine teams in FIBA-Asia Men’s Basketball Championship, which gets going August 1 at the Mall of Asia Arena, are fielding naturalized players, all of them with US origins.
South Korea has 6’6” naturalized American Gregory Stevenson, a Richmond,
Virginia alumi. Stevenson is half Korean, having a Korean-American
mother. The 34-year-old forward, who was naturalized in 2011, changed
his name to “Moon Tae-Young”.
Kazakhstan will field 6’6 Jerry Johnson as backcourt general.
The 31-year-old Johnson, who played for Rider University in New
Jersey, had international stints for the past seven years including
the recent B.C. Astana Tigers in the Kazakh National League where they won the championship.
Bahrain has 6’11” Chester Jarrel “CJ” Giles, who was the first choice of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas for naturalization. The 27-year-old was released due to reported poor working habits. He suited up for Gilas Pilipinas  in the 2009
Fiba Asia Champions Cup in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was once a former
Los Angeles Laker and Golden State Warriors summer league player.
Bahrain is ranked 75th in the world by FIBA.
Jordan, which is grouped with the host Gilas Pilipinas, has Jimmy
Baxter, a  6’6” shooting guard and small forward American from St.
Petersburg, Florida. Baxter was not drafted in the NBA so he decided to
play overseas and ended up with the Jordanian national team. He is
an able replacement for Rasheim Wright. Jordan coach Vangelis Aleksandris can also assign the 32-year-old shooting guard to the small forward position because of his good perimeter shooting.
Chinese-Taipei has 6’9” Quincy Davis, a forward/center from Tulane
University in New Orleans, who was naturalized in June 2013. He is a
complete player who can score and rebound. After his stint with the
World Basketball League, Davis played mostly abroad particularly in
Taiwan for the last two years.
The Philippines is retaining 6’11 Marcus Douthit, who is on his second
tour of duty for the host team. The 33-year-old former Providence College standout
was drafted 56th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA.
Douthit’s presence gives the Philippines a strong chance of making it
to the World Championship next year in Madrid, Spain.
Japan, a former Asian basketball power, will parade 6’8 JR
Sakuragi, the man formerly known as Milton “JR” Henderson, who has
been living Japan since 2007. The 36-year-old Sakuragi took his
surname from the popular Japanese manga character in Slam Dunk. He is
a University of California alumni and was drafted 56th overall in the
second round of the 1998 NBA Draft by the Vancouver (now Memphis)
Grizzlies.
Qatar signed 6’8 Jarvis Hayes, a 10th overall draft in the NBA by the
Washington Wizards in 2003. Hayes belongs to the class that produced
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony among others. The
31-year-old  Hayes averaged 8.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.1 assists
in a seven-year NBA career that included stints with the Detroit Pistons
and the New Jersey Nets.
Lebanon will have Loren Woods, who has been playing for Al Riyadi team in
Beirut since 2010. He was part of the Lebanese team that won the FIBA
Asia Champions Cup in 2011 held  in Manila.

The 35-year old 7’2” center was granted Lebanese citizenship only this month. Born in St. Louis, Missouri., Woods had played for Wake Forest alongside Tim Duncan before transferring to Arizona. He was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft as 45th overall. He spent two years with the Timberwolves before the Miami Heat picked him up. He also suited up for the Toronto Raptors before venturing as an international basketball player.

FRANK CALAPRE

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