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Top 5 Fil-Foreigners who can’t suit up for Gilas as locals

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By Mark Patriarca

If not for the strict FIBA rules on dual citizen players, Gilas Pilipinas would easily be able to field in one of the most formidable teams in Asia. There are a lot of Filipino-foreigners, most of them talented players that are not allowed to suit up for Gilas because of FIBA’s stiff requirements.

FIBA’s firm cracked down on the recruitment of foreigners as locals started in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championships in Wuhan, China where it found out that Qatar has five imports. The five players included Congo’s Tanguy Ngombo who was the Dallas Mavericks’ second round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Aside from the citizenship issue, Ngombo was cited for producing documents showing two different birth years, one in 1984 and the other in 1989.

Since the Qatar issue, FIBA has required every dual citizen player applying for eligibility to be issued a passport of the country the player intends to represent before turning 16. What was supposed to clean up Qatar’s lineup also led to Philippines suffering damages as some of the country’s talented Fil-foreigners were ruled ineligible for the national team as locals. They can still don the Philippine colors as naturalized players, however, FIBA only requires one import per team.

Here are top five Fil-foreign players who definitely would have been perfect pieces for the Gilas program.

1) Chris Newsome

Like the majority of players in this list, Chris Newsome wasn’t able to secure a Philippine passport before turning 16. The Meralco guard would have been a terrific addition for Gilas as an efficient all-around player who can knock down threes and run the break. Newsome, the 2016 PBA Rookie of the Year, would also be able to defend the opponent team’s top scorer with his athleticism.

2) Christian Standhardinger

The 6’8″ Fil-German center has already proved his wares in the international level. He has played, as a naturalized player, for Gilas last year in the FIBA Asia Cup, William Jones Cup and the Southeast Asian Games where he put up a lot of double-double games. Imagine how a frontline with Standhardinger and Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche fare against the best of Asia?

3) Chris Ross

The Fil-Am guard is currently one of PBA’s stats fillers. Ross is an unselfish player and works hard on the defensive end. At 33, Ross still has the best basketball years of his career ahead of him. He’s a triple-double machine just waiting to explode on a nightly basis. Too bad he’s not eligible under the current FIBA rules.

4) Stanley Pringle

Stanley Pringle is fresh of a scintillating FIBA 3×3 performance. Having him in the backcourt with Terrence Romeo or Jayson Castro will be a total defensive problem for the opposing team. There’s no way Pringle wouldn’t kill it in the international level. He’s ridiculously fast and steady with the ball, and he’s used to playing at a very efficient level on both ends of the floor. As a holder of a Philippine passport, Pringle is eligible to play for the country’s 3×3 side as a local unlike in the full 5-a-side national team which has stricter requirements.

5) Jordan Clarkson

The Cleveland Cavaliers guard would be arguably the country’s biggest casualty of FIBA’s stiff rule on dual citizens. Clarkson wants to play for Gilas and Gilas wants Clarkson in its lineup. So what gives?

Well, this subject remains rather complicated. Two things have primarily held back Clarkson’s dream of suiting up for Gilas. According to Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP), Clarkson got his Philippine Passport at age 12, but his eligibility will still have to go through a process with FIBA.

Granting that Clarkson had resolved eligibility problems, the NBA’s season schedule is in direct conflict with the FIBA’s new qualifying format. Now, many national squads, like the Philippines will have to rely on less heralded players to get the job done in the qualifiers.

Honorable Mentions: Cliff Hodge, Sol Mercado, Jason Brickman, Moala Tautuaa, Chris Banchero and Maverick Ahanmisi.