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Gilas Pilipinas targeting JaVale McGee and former teammate Andray Blatche for naturalization

January 30, 2014 2:40pm

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Manuel V. Pangilinan tweeted out Thursday that the Gilas men's national basketball team was targeting a pair of NBA centers for naturalization, namely Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets and JaVale McGee of the Denver Nuggets.

McGee is no stranger to being linked to the Philippine team. Back in May of 2012, House Bill No. 6169 was filed to naturalize the then-restricted free agent by Antipolo District 1 representative Roberto Puno, but it did not get past the committee level due to "issues involving McGee's insurance requirements."

[Related: Bill seeking to grant JaVale McGee Filipino citizenship filed]

This time around, Rep. Puno is once again filing the bills, 3783 for Blatche and 3784 for McGee. Neither though, have been read on the floor yet.

“We need to naturalize at least two players who will be eligible to play for the Philippine team. Although only one will be included in the final line up, it is good to have two players to avoid jeopardizing the entire basketball program in the event of an injury to any of our naturalized players,” said Puno in a press release

McGee, currently a center for the Denver Nuggets, made a strong impression on Filipinos during a barnstorming event held in Manila in 2011 during the NBA lockout. He has however seen action in just five games in the current season, with averages of 7.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks, due to a stress fracture in his left leg. Last season, he normed 9.1 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.

Blatche on the other hand has been a productive substitute for the Brooklyn Nets, especially with All-Star center Brook Lopez out for the remainder of the season. He's currently putting up 12.1 points, 6.0 rebounds and 0.5 blocks a game in 39 outings.

The duo were teammates with the Washington Wizards in the past.

Gilas' current naturalized center, Marcus Douthit, is 33-years-old and his skills could begin to decline as he enters the twilight portion of his career. - AMD, GMA News
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