SBP to appeal Justin Brownlee's eligibility in hopes of tandem with Jordan Clarkson

Justin Brownlee could be reclassified as a local owing to FIBA's special residency rule. Kennelf Monteza (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—The hot debate continues: Jordan Clarkson or Justin Brownlee as the naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas' FIBA World Cup team?

For the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, though, why not Clarkson and Brownlee?

SBP vice president Ricky Vargas revealed that the organization plans to appeal to FIBA to reclassify Brownlee as a local owing to a "special residency rule" set by the global basketball body.

According to the rule, foreign players residing in a certain country for at least seven years can be lobbied to play in its national team as a local.

"It's worth a try. Bakit hindi," Vargas, also the chairman of the PBA board of governors, said during the board's annual planning session in Paris as quoted in the league's website.

Brownlee arrived in the Philippines on July 22, 2016 to replace then-injured Paul Harris as Ginebra import and made his PBA debut three days later.

Brownlee has since become the Gin Kings' resident import for the PBA Governors' Cup, leading them to four pennants in the said conference plus two more in the Commissioner's Cup.

He also won a championship with Alab Pilipinas in the ABL.

Brownlee, though, had short spells with Lebanese side Al Riyadi Beirut and UAE-based Al Sharjah.

However, if the FIBA residency rule is to be followed, he has been a Filipino resident for seven years already.

Vargas, though, believes Brownlee has already learned what it's like to be a Filipino.

"Si Brownlee pusong atin. Ugaling atin na yan. Nakita nyo naman," Vargas added.

If approved, Gilas will have the luxury of having two high-scoring swingmen at the wings with Clarkson and Brownlee playing together.

"You have a beautiful scenario when you have both," Vargas said.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno