MANILA — Gilas Pilipinas takes its act to the Philippine Arena for the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
This was announced by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on Tuesday saying the main venue of next year’s World Cup will be the site of the final two games of the national team in the February window when the Filipinos tangle with Lebanon and Jordan.
And should everything falls into place, Justin Brownlee could also be suiting up as the naturalized player for the national team in the Feb. 24-27 event.
SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios both confirmed the latest development in the campaign of Gilas Pilipinas during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum held face-to-face at the ground floor of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
“Yung Philippine Arena talagang naka-schedule tayo doon, yung dalawang laro sa Pebrero,” said Barrios, a day after the national team arrived from the Middle East following a two-game sweep of Jordan and Saudi Arabia for the fifth window.
It will be the third window to be staged in the country after earlier hosting the first and second windows in February at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and the fourth window last August at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Games in the 2023 World Cup will be held at the Big Dome, MoA, and the Philippine Arena.
“Yung tatlong venue na yan ang lalaruan sa World Cup. Kaya hangga’t maaari, lalaruan na natin. Parang nag-OJT na rin yung local organizing committee natin pag nagho-host tayo sa iba’t ibang venue natin,” Barrios said in the weekly session presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
For the sixth window, the Filipinos tangle with Lebanon on Feb. 24 before taking on Jordan on Feb. 27.
And the prospect of the 34-year-old Brownlee serving as the naturalized player of Gilas in both games looms as the process for his naturalization will start rolling by today.
“May hearing na sa Congress, at a-appear si Justin Brownlee doon,” said Barrios of the beloved Barangay Ginebra import who will appear at the Lower House wearing his newly-tailored barong tagalog.
“Magiging malaking bagay kung magiging available si Justin,” admitted the SBP executive director.
Barrios said Brownlee would be appearing before the Committee of Justice in Congress for the initial part of the naturalization process, which will also go through the Senate once it passed the Lower House
“Nag-uumpisa yan sa Congress. Kapag na-approve (sa Congress), saka aakyat sa Senate,” he explained. “May proseso yan at walang shortcut yan.”
The former PBA commissioner said the SBP is letting the naturalization process of Brownlee takes its course, though he is very optimistic Brownlee would eventually make it.
“Yun ang target. Ayokong manguna sa ating mga congressmen at senators. That’s the last thing we like to do,” said Barrios. “Let’s allow them to do their jobs first. They know what’s required. We are very fortunate that in both houses, Lower and Upper House, the support for basketball is immense and unquantifiable.”