Naturalization prospect Greg Smith nagsimulang mag-ensayo sa Gilas

April 21, 2017

Gustong maging Pinoy ni Blackwater import Greg Smith.

Nagpakita ng interes ang NBA veteran na si Smith na maglaro para sa Philippine national team sa mga susunod nitong kampanya at maging back up naturalized player ng Gilas Pilipinas.

Smith, a former Houston Rocket, showed his commitment after he joined Gilas pool's Thursday practice at the Meralco Gym. He was accompanied by no less than Blackwater team owner Dioceldo Sy and team manager Johnson Martines.

Para kay Smith, malaking karangalan na mabigyan ng oportunidad na makalaro ang magagaling na players ng bansa kaya naman pursigido siyang maging naturalized player at mapabilang sa koponan na magri-represent sa Pilipinas sa mga susunod na malalaking international events.

"There's no question, I want to be here. I love it. There’s nothing bad for me to say. Everything I've been – the fans, the games, the people – everything is great. I wouldn't mind being here," said Smith on the prospect of being naturalized.

Nakatakdang dumating si Andray Blacthe, ang resident naturalized player ng Gilas, na ginabayan ang kanyang koponang Xinjiang Flyign Tigers sa kampeonato ng Chinese Basketball Association, sa Mayo para bigyan ng karagdagang lakas ang kampanya ng Philippine national team sa nalalapit na SEABA Men's Championship.

Ang idea na maging naturalized player si Smith ay base sa rekomendasyon ni Sy kay Al Panlilio, ang bagong upong presidente ng Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

"This is a serious offer," added Sy. "At least you have a back up if ever hindi pwede si Blatche. I'm vouching for him. He has great working attitude. He told me if ever Gilas needs him, just tell him in advance."

Smith said playing for Gilas would be a no-brainer.

"Team management (Blackwater) asked me if I want to be part of Gilas and I said, wow, why not," added Smith. "It's an opportunity for me to perform with these guys, the best players in the country. Why not?"

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Head coach Chot Reyes, however, clarified that although they welcomed the idea of having Smith as a back up naturalized player, the Blackwater reinforcement and Gilas management could resume discussions right after the SEABA campaign.

Gilas Pilipinas will take a break this weekend then resume training on Monday before leaving for Cagayan de Oro for the PBA All-Star Weekend. After that, Reyes will assemble his players and focus their preparation for the SEABA championship.

"Our priority are players who can play with June Mar (Fajardo), who can be on the floor with him. Obviously, we're also very interested with Alex Stepheson but we think he will be essentially playing the same position with June Mar. The thing with Dontae and Greg is their ability to play with June Mar. What I like about him (Smith) is sila talaga yung nagsabi," said Reyes.

"We'll continue discussions within maybe after SEABA."