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Mikee Romero bats for naturalized player pool for Gilas Men after subpar stint in FIBA worlds

While Mikee Romero suggested more foreign big men to be tapped for Gilas Men, he said that they can tap naturalization candidate Justin Brownlee if the need for speed arises. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—If House of Representatives deputy speaker Mikee Romero is to be asked, he would prefer more naturalized players to be signed up for Gilas Pilipinas Men.

Speaking at the weekly PSA Forum at the Amelie Hotel on Tuesday, the NorthPort owner proposed to have a pool of foreign reinforcements to be tapped as naturalized players for Gilas Men.

"Yung nakita natin kay Yeng Guiao na Gilas Pilipinas ay kailangan talaga natin ng malaki," Romero said, pertaining to Gilas Men's dismal performance in the recently held FIBA World Cup. "We need a versatile big man na talagang maaasahan natin."

Seeing the lineups of the other teams and current Gilas Men naturalized player Andray Blatche's showing, Romero, who filed the congress bill naturalizing Ginebra import Justin Brownlee, believes it is an imperative for the SBP to bring in tall naturalized players, although he added that Brownlee should remain an option.

"The Gilas Pilipinas and the SBP has to regroup. Kailangang galingan nila ang pag-recruit nila ng malalaking players na eligible to be naturalized kasi si Andray Blatche, for me, napaglumaan na natin," he further said.

Romero even suggested a certain number of naturalization prospects for SBP to call up: "Kailangan mag-recruit tayo ng at least lima and then we just rotate. For each tournament, may dalawa ka. Pwede mo namang palitan in the middle of the games."

He then thinks the naturalized player to be called up for each game should be based on the situation at hand.

"Kunyari ang kalaban mo mabilis, kailangan mo ng isang Justin Brownlee, scorer. Pag kalaban mo, malalaki, e di ilaban mo yung malalaki. We have to be flexible," Romero added.

However, should the SBP follow Romero's advice, the basketball body may need to act fast as the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers will be coming up right after the Southeast Asian Games.

Aside from Brownlee, another player who openly expressed his desire to join Gilas Men is Chris McCullough.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno