Basketball

JaVale McGee: Playing in the Philippines ‘a consideration’

InterAKTV/Markku Seguerra

After setting the country on fire with his rim-rattling dunks in the SMART Ultimate All-Star Weekend last July, Washington Wizards center JaVale McGee is back in town to conduct a big man’s camp in the Philippines.

The athletic 7-footer will teach local big guys basketball fundamentals alongside former NBA veteran Alton Lister and Ateneo Blue Eagles coach Norman Black on Saturday at the Moro Lorenzo gym in Ateneo, an event organized by the MVP Sports Foundation, the same group behind July’s series of all-star games featuring NBA stars.

While in the Philippines, McGee was able to take in PBA games last Wednesday. He has also been in discussions with officials of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the country’s basketball federation headed by Manuel V. Pangilinan, who also chairs the MVP Sports Foundation.

With the NBA lockout in full swing, McGee said expressed openness about the possibility of playing in the Philippines.

“It’s a great idea, but I don’t know for sure,” he said. “If I play for another country, the Philippines would definitely be a consideration.”

Curiously, the PBA Commissioner’s Cup will allow teams to hire imports without regard to height, making McGee and other big NBA stars eligible. But finances might be a consideration, as the PBA caps the allowed salary for imports at a rate much lower than what NBA stars would make elsewhere.

Other NBA stars have already signed contracts with international squads because of the lockout, with Deron Williams debuting in Turkey recently and Andre Kirilenko joining a team in Russia. Kobe Bryant, who led the NBA contingent during the games in the Philippines in July, is also reportedly in talks with Italian ballclubs.

Another distinct possibility for McGee would be to suit up for the Philippine national team as a naturalized player. In the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship, Marcus Douthit, a naturalized American, carried the cudgels for the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team.

While McGee remains non-commital, he said that he loves the passion of Filipino basketball fans.

“Definitely, just the crowd and the energy the Filipino fans bring [is great],” he said. “It would make me happy to come back to the Philippines.”

InterAKTV is part of InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5, which is chaired by Pangilinan. – With reporting from InterAKTV

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