Gilas opens door for imports aspiring to undergo naturalization

Gilas opens door for imports aspiring to undergo naturalization

Blackwater Elite’s American import Greg Smith showing up for Gilas’ practice session Thursday night brought a lot of positives for the Nationals, and head coach Chot Reyes was obviously upbeat with the development.

“Big props to Blackwater management, they really want to help the team in that manner,” thanked the National Team’s tactician to the generous move by the franchise, moments after the team’s practice at the Meralco Gym in Pasig.

And with the attendance of the 6-foot-10 center out of California, the 53-year-old mentor bared his plans, especially to foreigners who aim to be part of the Gilas program, by saying that they are also open to working with them.

Last month, TNT Katropa reinforcement Donte Greene also took part in Gilas’ practice and also expressed his intention to be naturalized if the opportunity is presented.

But there is one condition though, according also to Reyes. They are not just looking for somebody who can be a go-to guy, but also somebody who can co-exist with Gilas’ top center and San Miguel Beermen star June Mar Fajardo.

“We want to work out with a lot of people — a lot of players as possible, and our priority are the players who can play with June Mar, who can be on the floor together with June Mar,” Reyes shared.

And he already has a handful of foreign players in mind, with all of them serving as reinforcements for their respective PBA teams in the ongoing 2017 Commissioner’s Cup.2017 PBA Commissioners Cup - Meralco def TNT - Alex Stepheson

“Obviously, we’re very interested also with Alex Stepheson, but we think that he will essentially be playing the same position as June Mar,” said Reyes.

“The thing with guys like Donte [Greene] and Greg is their ability to play with June Mar.”

But with regards to Smith, a five-year NBA veteran that saw him play for Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and Minnesota Timberwolves, Reyes was impressed with what he saw.

“He picked things up very quickly and that’s very typical of players who’ve been to the NBA,” Reyes raved. “But the thing we like about Greg is he’s 26. He’s very young. He’s still got a lot of upside, a lot of potential.

“It’s not yet to the level of the others (knowledged of system), but we could already see what he’s capable of.”

And as Gilas’ session wrapped up for the night, the five-time PBA Coach of the Year left a word for the foreigners who want to represent the Philippines’ colors in the near future.

“We’ve always put out the word that our practice is open to players who are thinking about applying for naturalization,” closed Reyes.

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