House passes Brownlee naturalization | Inquirer Sports

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American basketball player Justin Brownlee—Senate PRIB

Justin Brownlee backstopping the national cage program took a massive step forward on Tuesday after the House of Representatives passed on the third and final reading a bill seeking to grant the American forward Filipino citizenship.

A total of 274 members of the House gave the green light on Bill No. 6224, which was met with zero opposition and just a single abstention.

“This is the humble contribution of the House of Representatives to the national basketball team’s quest for glory in the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) World Cup. Anything is possible if you put your heart or ‘puso’ into it,” House Speaker Martin Romualdez said in a media statement, shortly after the plenary session.

“Just wanted to give you a special shout-out and thank you for the blessing and the honor to be in your presence. Maraming salamat, thank you for everything, I love you,” Brownlee said in a separate video.

American icon

A native of Georgia, Brownlee has blossomed into a basketball icon in the Philippines playing as a reinforcement for the fabled Barangay Ginebra franchise.

The 34-year-old, who was just a replacement for the injured Paul Harris back in 2016, has gone on to help the Gin Kings to five PBA titles thus far. Throughout that span, Brownlee also notched two Best Import awards.

A counterpart measure has since been filed at the Senate, and is also expected to be approved with finality just before the Christmas break.

The Senate and Congress can reconcile their versions of the bill by way of a bicameral hearing. Once ratified, the final version is then transmitted to the Office of the President for signing into law.

Brownlee is being eyed to serve as Gilas Pilipinas’ naturalized player for the sixth and final window of the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Debut vs Lebanon

There, the Nationals will be hosting red-hot Lebanon and then Jordan at Philippine Arena in Bulacan in February next year in preparation for the global showcase that the Philippines will cohost with Japan and Indonesia in August.

“Been waiting for this for a while but worth the wait. Thankful, blessed, and honored,” Brownlee said in an Instagram post. “Thank you to everyone who made this possible and a special thanks to SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas), House of Representatives—senators, and all congressmen.

“To all the great fans and people here in the Philippines mahal ko kayo! I will do my best to make you proud!!!”

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