• Women’s basketball coach prefers homegrown talent to naturalized players

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    The team manager of Philippine women’s basketball said she would rather focus on grassroots development than have foreign players naturalized so they can play for the national team.

    After the Philippine government did not naturalize 6’4 Chinese Xiao Jing Zheng, Cynthia Tiu told reporters on Wednesday there is no any other way but to scour the country for local talents to be developed for future tournaments.

    Zheng “already spent three years here in the country and waited to be naturalized but nothing happened. She was disappointed and we also felt the same,” said Tiu. “Right now, we can’t refile the petition of her naturalization since she is already married.”

    Zheng and 6’11 American Marcus Douthit went through the naturalization process almost two years ago. Douthit was naturalized but Zheng didn’t get the Senate approval of House Bill 2683 early this year.

    Tiu also talked about the national women’s team defense of the second Discovery Women’s Basketball Invitational-Jesse M. Robredo Memorial Cup on August 22 to 25 in Naga City.

    She said she expects the team to perform very well since they are lobbying for their inclusion in the Myanmar Southeast Asian Games in December.

    “We’re still lobbying for it and hopefully this (tournament) will help us,” said Tiu. “We were already endorsed by the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) last August 5 and they’re still deliberating on it.”

    The Philippine Olympic Committee has yet to grant the team a ticket to the SEA Games despite its winning the silver medal in 2011 in Thailand.

    Singapore and Australia are taking part in Robredo Cup invitational.

    Leading the Philippine team will by Merencia Arayi, Joan Grajales, Chovi Borja and Ana Almazan.

    JOSEF T. RAMOS

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