Tarlac representative Henry Cojuangco wants to co-author the bill to naturalize Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee to make him eligible to represent the Philippines in international play.
SMART-Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio relayed the news late Wednesday.
Antipolo City representative Robbie Puno earlier filed House Bill 6169, which would make McGee a Filipino citizen. In his bill’s cover letter, Puno cited McGee’s “remarkable track record in the United States’ professional basketball scene” as consideration for his inclusion in the SMART-Gilas program.
Cojuangco is the younger brother of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr., the chairman of San Miguel Corporation.
Interestingly, SMART-Gilas is bankrolled by businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. The MVP group of companies is perceived to have a long-standing basketball rivalry with SMC.
(InterAKTV is part of InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5, which is chaired by Pangilinan.)
The non-participation in SMART-Gilas of several players from PBA teams owned by SMC has touched a nerve among basketball fans. James Yap and Marc Pingris of B-MEG, and Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter of Petron were all invited to be part of SMART-Gilas, but chose not to commit to the program. But a player from another SMC team, Enrico Villanueva, signed his letter of commitment to the pool.
While the elder Cojuangco remains chairman and chief executive officer of SMC, he recently sold his 20 percent interest in the conglomerate to company president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang. In a statement, the former ambassador said his divestment would allow him to pursue “personal endeavors.”