After four years of waiting, Justin Brownlee, Barangay Ginebra’s resident import, has officially become a naturalized Filipino citizen after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed Republic Act 11937 on Tuesday, January 12.
Brownlee has already been training with Gilas Pilipinas for months and is expected to serve as a reinforcement for the Philippine national team in the upcoming sixth window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup qualifiers in February.
On Monday, Justin Brownlee’s bid to gain Filipino citizenship passed in the Senate with 21 affirmative votes and no abstentions.
This brings the beloved Philippine Basketball Association import closer to officially joining the national basketball program.
The Senate approved House Bill 6224, which seeks to naturalize Brownlee, on third and final reading without any amendments. The bill was then sent to President Marcos for signing into law.
Senator Francis Tolentino said in a TV5 interview that Justin Brownlee will be of great service to the Philippines not just in basketball and sports, but in other endeavors as well.
He added that they hope that Brownlee’s character will serve as an inspiration to Filipino youth.
Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee, now a naturalized Filipino, will soon don the country’s colors when he suits up for the Gilas Pilipinas team seeing action in the sixth window qualifier of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. PBA PHOTO
Brownlee has expressed his desire for local citizenship for years and has endeared himself to Filipino fans. He is still one of the best players in the pro league and will certainly be a huge boost to the Philippines’ World Cup contention hopes.
Brownlee averages 29.0 points, 10.6 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.8 blocks, and 1.6 steals for Barangay Ginebra in the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Following the Commissioner’s Cup, he is expected to remain with the Gin Kings for the season-ending Governors’ Cup, juggling duties for both club and country.
Brownlee is a five-time PBA champion with the Gin Kings and twice the winner of the Best Import award. Born in Georgia, United States, he could potentially join Ivory Coast native and NBA star Jordan Clarkson in Gilas’ active pool of naturalized players.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) expects Brownlee to lead the men’s national basketball team in their quest to reclaim the gold medal at the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia from May 5 to 17.
POC President Bambol Tolentino said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will be sending a strong roster for the 32nd edition of the biennial meet.
Tolentino, during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday, said, “Kausap ko naman ang basketball. Babawiin natin ang 5-on-5 at 3×3. Mabibigat na ‘yung ilalaban doon. Sila Brownlee na ‘yun.
Another good news for us sa Cambodia (I talked to SBP. We will redeem ourselves in 5-on-5 and 3×3. They will send strong teams with Brownlee. Another good news for us for Cambodia).”
SBP is seen to include Brownlee to the Gilas Pilipinas team when they host Lebanon on February 24 and Jordan on February 27 in the final qualifying window for the 2023 Fiba World Cup, both games to be held at the Philippine Arena.
The POC chief said Brownlee’s inclusion would boost Gilas’ chances of regaining the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games, even if other competing countries also have naturalized players.
Gilas failed to capture their 14th straight Southeast Asian Games gold medal after a shocking 81-85 loss to Indonesia, led by former NBA player Marques Bolden, in Hanoi last May.