The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is looking at the possibility of having two naturalized players in the Gilas Pilipinas pool as part of its long-term plan for the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“Yes, that’s my hope,” said SBP President Al Panlilio adding that having two bigs in the lineup would be an ideal set up for a team lacking in size.
Gilas has only one so far in former NBA player Andray Blatche.
Blatche, however, will no longer be a part of the 2023 squad since he would already be 36 years old when the country plays host to the world’s biggest basketball extravaganza.
Chot Reyes, the current Gilas coach, said the ideal age for national team hopefuls is between 26-32 years old.
One possible candidate for naturalization is Zeke Austin.
The 7-foot-1 American has already suited up as import of the national team in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup in China last October.
Austin is only 24 years old, and by 2023, he will definitely be at his peak form like when Blatche – then 28 years old – first suited up for the national team during the 2014 World Cup in Spain.
In his initial stint with Gilas, Austin averaged 20 points, 13 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.1 blocks per game in seven games.