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Chua bares Brownlee's naturalization desires

Justin Brownlee can't help but smile and applaud as SMC Sports Director Al Francis Chua revealed Brownlee's desire to fully embrace the Filipino nation by being a naturalized Filipino citizen during the Ginebra Grand Fans Day. Dennis Jerome Acosta/ Dugout Philippines
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Just as everyone, from the players to the coaching staff and even to the fans, was celebrating Ginebra's PBA Commissioner's Cup championship on Sunday, the team's PBA governor, Alfrancis Chua, dropped a very interesting statement during his speech.

"Next conference, hindi na si [Justin] Brownlee ang import dahil gagawin na natin siyang Filipino," Chua said to the fans who came to the Metrotent.

While it seemed like a joke considering that non-Filipino players cannot play in the PBA as locals even if they get naturalized, that joke turned out to be half-meant as Chua revealed Brownlee's plans for naturalization.

"Sabi niya, 'I want to be naturalized,'" Chua relayed what Brownlee said in a recent conversation.

However, Chua, in a chat with reporters later Sunday, quickly doused cold water on potential fan clamors for the six-foot-five wingman to become Gilas Pilipinas' naturalized reinforcement.

"Ang usapan nila (SBP and its stakeholders) ay yung mga malalaki, di ba? Out of the question siguro yun dahil si Brownlee, maliit," the former champion coach added. "Ang kinakailangan nila talaga, malaki dahil yun ang advantage. Height is might pagdating sa international [competitions]."

So what is the naturalization for then?

"Ang sinasabi niya siguro, gusto niya dito mag-retire. Para magka-dual citizen siya, dito siya magre-retire," Chua answered. "He told me many times na kung matapos siya ng paglalaro, he wants to stay in the Philippines and he wants to be naturalized. To make the story short, Brownlee loves the Philippines; he wants to stay here for good."

But if in case the SBP decides to push through with the tedious naturalization process on the 30-year-old Brownlee to make him eligible for Gilas, Chua assures that Ginebra's resident Governors' Cup import, who was named the Best Import of the Commissioner's Cup, also embodies the "puso" mantra that the national team has been showing.

"Ang puso ni Brownlee, malaki pa sa Pilipinas," Chua further said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno