Bennie Boatwright the right guy for Gilas Pilipinas, says Al Panlilio

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio expressed his confidence in San Miguel import Bennie Boatwright, believing that he is the perfect fit to become the next naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas and a key pillar of the program moving forward.

Following a meeting with Boatwright, SBP executive director Erika Dy, Gilas head coach Tim Cone, and team manager Richard Del Rosario at Fairways Grill, Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati, Panlilio shared his positive impressions with SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan and SBP vice president Ricky P. Vargas, stating, “It seems we have the right guy.”

“It was a very pleasant lunch, kwentuhan, me just finding out who he is, how he is; it was very relaxed, he even tried halo-halo. Bennie is very mild-mannered, maamo yung character niya, very respectable,” said Panlilio.

During the meeting, Boatwright was briefed on the naturalization process, a rigorous journey that he agreed to undertake with willingness to return to the Philippines for necessary appearances before the House of Representatives and the Senate – mirroring the path taken by current naturalized players Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame.

Despite Cone’s mention of Brownlee as the primary choice for Gilas, particularly in the upcoming Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July, Boatwright’s addition to the pool of naturalized players provides the national team with added versatility as they prepare for the FIBA World Cup in Qatar.

The ultimate objective for Gilas is to secure the highest placement among Asian teams at the World Cup and earn a direct berth to the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 – a goal that excites Boatwright and aligns with the team’s aspirations, as noted by Panlilio.

“It’s a dream for him. He has lived in LA for most part of his life, Bennie told us, and his family is still there,” said Panlilio. “We’re working on his calendar. But he is really very excited.”

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