CERTIFIED FILIPINO. Justin Brownlee (left) poses with senators after the hearing on his naturalization bid at the Senate session hall in Pasay City on Monday (Dec. 12, 2022). The Senate has granted him Filipino citizenship, six years since he first played in the country. (PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA - The Senate on Monday approved on third reading House Bill (HB) No. 6224 which grants Filipino citizenship to Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee.

Senator Francis Tolentino, who sponsored the measure, said in his speech that Brownlee "has certainly exemplified and enshrined the Filipino values of hard work, perseverance, determination, and dedication to his craft."

"I am excited to see what the future holds for Mr. Brownlee as a citizen of this country. He will also be a reserve officer in the Philippine Army. I am certain that he will be a great addition to this great Republic," Tolentino said.

Twenty-one senators voted in favor of HB 6224, which was filed by congressmen Mikee Romero (1-Pacman party-list) and Gus Tambunting (Parañaque 2nd District), taking into consideration Senate Bill Nos. 1366, 1516, and 1519 filed by Senators Ronald Dela Rosa, Christopher Go, and Joel Villanueva, respectively.

Senator Sonny Angara said Brownlee’s naturalization will provide a big boost to the Philippine basketball team during the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February while providing even more excitement to Filipino fans.

“Things are definitely looking up for Philippine basketball and with the right amount of support, our resurgence in the world hoops stage could definitely become a reality sooner than later,” said Angara, who also chairs Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

Angara, an active player of the Senate basketball team along with Villanueva and Go, thanked his colleagues for their full support of the naturalization of Brownlee.

“After several years of playing as an import in the PBA, Brownlee has now deemed the Philippines as his second home and has demonstrated a strong desire to contribute to the country as a future player of our Gilas Pilipinas squad,” he added.

With five titles and two Best Import plums in the Philippine Basketball Association, the 34-year-old Brownlee is considered among the greatest reinforcements of the league

Standing a little below 6-foot-6, he was brought in by Ginebra in 2016.

The Philippines, alongside Indonesia and Japan, will host the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which will kick off Aug. 25, 2023 and culminate in Manila for the final phase on Sept. 5 to 10. (PNA)