Justin Brownlee (left) (Contributed photo) 

MANILA – Senators Ronald Dela Rosa, Sonny Angara and Francis Tolentino, all avowed basketball fans, will help Barangay Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee obtain a Philippine citizenship.

Angara announced on Friday that he filed Senate Bill (SB) 1526, a counterpart measure for the naturalization of the American as part of his commitment to support the continuous development of the national basketball program.

As chairperson of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, Angara had previously initiated the process of naturalizing the 34-year-old Brownlee and possibly another foreign player to bulk up the roster of the national team.

“We all know the capabilities of Brownlee on the basketball court and can only imagine the great things he can do as a member of our Gilas Pilipinas team. Justin has demonstrated his strong desire to be part of the national team, having played and lived in the Philippines for over five years as an import of Barangay Ginebra in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association),” Angara said in a statement.

"Malaki ang maitutulong ni Brownlee sa ating Gilas Pilipinas. Bilang isang fan din ng basketball, talagang nakakabilib din ang mga nagawa na niya sa PBA. Two-time Best Import siya. Naka-limang titulo na siya bilang import ng Barangay Ginebra at kabilang na siya sa pinakamagagaling na import sa kasaysayan ng (Brownlee will be a big help to Gilas Pilipinas. As a fan of basketball, I was really impressed with his performance in the PBA. He is a two-time Best Import, got five titles as Barangay Ginebra import and is one of the best imports in the history of the) PBA,” he added.

Before Angara’s bill, Dela Rosa had also filed SB 1336, or An Act Granting Philippine Citizenship to Justin Brownlee, which had been transferred to the Committee on Justice and Human Rights chaired by Senator Francis Tolentino.

The committee scheduled a first hearing on Nov. 21.

Brownlee, standing a little below 6-foot-6, was brought in by Ginebra in 2016.

The Gin Kings secured his services for at least two more conferences -- the ongoing Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup.

In 157 games as of last year, he produced averages of 28.9 points and 12 rebounds per game.

“He has lived in the Philippines for over five years. His discipline and athleticism serve as an inspiration to the Filipinos. It would arouse the further patriotism and Pinoy pride in each and every one of us, especially in a sport very popular in the country,” Tolentino said in a statement.

Once his naturalization is approved, Brownlee is expected to reinforce the Gilas Pilipinas team in February when it goes up against Lebanon and Jordan in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Angara was also the principal author of SB 1892 that resulted in the naturalization of 6-foot-10 Ange Kouame, who was born in Ivory Coast.

Kouame, who turns 25 next month, arrived in the Philippines also in 2016 as import for Ateneo in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, helping the Blue Eagles to two titles in 2018 and 2019 and winning Season 84 Most Valuable Player honors for Academic Year 2021-2022. (PNA)