Gilas Pilipinas adds NorthPort’s Jamie Malonzo to national team pool

Jamie Malonzo is now eligible to play for the national team as a local (PBA Images)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team will be adding one of the premier small forwards in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as part of their roster build-up to form the strongest team possible for the future international tournaments.

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes announced and confirmed that NorthPort Batang Pier’s high-flying small forward Jamie Malonzo was already added to the national team’s pool and will be playing as a local after obtaining his passport at the age of eight.

Under the FIBA rules for foreign-born players, the person will be allowed to play for his national team if he/she already got his/her passport before turning 16 years old.

“When I returned home, I had a copy of his passport that showed he had his passport when he was eight years old. So he’s eligible, all this while, he’s eligible. It took just like anything in life, just for me to actually ask him,” said Reyes.

The former De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archer took the professional basketball scene by storm after getting selected second overall by NorthPort during the 2021 PBA Rookie draft.

Malonzo showed he belonged in the big boys’ league and immediately created an impact on the team led by superstar Robert Bolick under the tutelage of veteran head coach Pido Jarencio.

After a heartbreaking exit during the Governor’s Cup last conference, Malonzo showed vast improvement in his game and is currently averaging 19 points, 11.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2 blocks, and 1.8 steals in the ongoing Philippine Cup.

However, Reyes explained that Malonzo will not immediately suit up with the national team and don the blue and white colors.

“We have to see how he plays with the other guys and how he plays in international competition. International play is a different animal altogether so he has to be able to feel that,” added Reyes.