After a stellar showcase with Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup, many are wondering: how is Isaiah Austin’s naturalization going?
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas vice chairman Robbie Puno shared that the bill is ready for filing and is waiting for the go-signal from the team and congress.
“We have a bill prepared [for Austin], but it has not been filed. It’s my understanding that we are waiting on the go-signal of two powers that be. That powers that be of the team and the powers of be in congress,” said the honorable congressman from the first district of Antipolo City.
“The first step really is having a clear mandate for us to pursue the naturalization of Isaiah Austin and we do not have that yet. It’s my understanding that they want to observe, they want to see other candidates because if and when we pull the trigger on this, it’s a very tedious and difficult process,” he discussed.
The process will take months, as Puno has to prove to congress that the 24-year-old big man is deserving of naturalization just like Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche.
“What we don’t want to do, is to file a bill and then pull it out like we did with Javale McGee and several other players, we don’t want to go through that,” the 55-year-old lawmaker said.
“As we naturalize players, the more we naturalize, the more difficult it becomes, because the argument that we are frequently confronted with is the argument that we have too many naturalized players.”
Austin averaged 20.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks during the Asia Champions Cup.
With this, head coach Chot Reyes is hopeful that they can get things done before the third window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers begin.
“As for Isaiah Austin, I think he’s playing now in Taiwan. It is a work in progress, Mr. Puno is at the forefront of the paper work and as you all know, it takes time,” said Reyes. “Realistically, the earliest is middle of next year, perhaps in the June window if we ever decide.
“But things are moving, he’s expressed his complete desire. That’s that.”