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JaVale McGee may become citizen of, play for Philippines

Oct 31, 2011, 1:57 PM EDT

JaVale McGee of the Wizards gets ready to throw one of his jerseys into the crowd before a USO "Hoops for Troops" event at Schofield Army Barracks in Wahiawa Reuters

Last summer, while NBA big men were dropping like flies, Wizards center JaVale McGee came close to being part of the Team USA squad that won gold at the FIBA World Championships. But he didn’t make the cut, Tyson Chandler did.

However, if McGee were on the Philippines national team, he would be the best player — by a long shot — and make them more of a threat in a relatively weak reagion. That is one basketball crazy in that country (remember the exhibition tour this summer) so for him to play for the national would make him a big star in the Asian market.

And that is the goal as they are working to make him a naturalized citizen, reports the Philippines Star (via Eye on Basketball).

If everything falls into place, Smart Gilas Pilipinas will have the Washington Wizards’ seven-foot center JaVale McGee as naturalized player for the next FIBA Asia championship.

McGee had been in the country twice in the last four months and, in his last visit, expressed willingness to be part of the Philippine team vying for a slot in the 2014 World Championship.

The Philippines team recently came in fourth at the Asia Championships and Olympic qualifying tournament, behind China (the winner), Jordan and Korea. That did not get them a berth in the Olympics. Part of their challenge was matching up with the size of other teams, guys like Yi Jianglian of China.

McGee doesn’t bring a reliable midrange game or the basketball IQ that tends to thrive in international ball. But what he does bring is more size and athleticism than anyone he will face in those tournaments, so he could have big games in the paint. They just better not expect it every game from him. Just ask the Wizards.

  1. entropy13 - Nov 1, 2011 at 2:32 AM

    “They just better not expect it every game from him”

    That would be Douthit’s role. If this would happen, McGee would be the C while Douthit (who is 6’10″) would move to PF. The usual players we have for PF (who are only 6’7″ at most – while we do have a 6’9″ player, he’s quite thin) would then play more as wingmen and not as undersized bigmen.

    Douthit would bring the consistent production, he can score inside, has good range, but you can’t really say he’s a “beast” inside the paint. So that would be McGee’s role. He can also add to the rebounding at least (most of our rebounds were by Douthit).

  2. 00maltliquor - Nov 1, 2011 at 6:00 AM

    Is he even Filipino? If not, this doesn’t sit well with me. It feels like he’s a trader and a sellout. If you really want to play in the olympics then work hard on your game and make your actual countries team, instead of becoming a citizen somewhere else and taking the easy road. Am I wrong for feeling like this?

    • bcjim - Nov 1, 2011 at 7:10 AM

      I dont like it either but for the opposite reason. How’d you like to be a Filipino and have some bro rolling in and taking your Olympic spot? WTF?

      Now if he has some legit claim to dual citizenship or something, fine.

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