Metta World Peace son Jeron Artest 'very motivated' to play for Gilas

Dominic Menor, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 13 2017 06:57 PM | Updated as of Aug 13 2017 07:27 PM

Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, said he wants his son Jeron to earn his spot on the Philippine national team, if given he's given the opportunity. Dominic Menor, ABS-CBN News

MANILA -- As great as Metta World Peace was at his peak in the pros, he never caught a whiff of an opportunity to play for Team USA.

With his son Jeron Artest expressing apparent interest in suiting up for a national basketball team -- the Philippines' -- Peace said he hopes things work out for his teenage son.

"When I was in my prime, I kept getting in a lot of trouble when I was playing in the NBA," said Peace, formerly Ron Artest, in a media conference in Taguig City on Sunday.

"I was never invited to play for the USA team, and I was never invited to play in the Olympics. They didn't want a player like myself to be on the team, so that was tough for me.

"Playing for your national team, there is something different about that."

Peace said Jeron, whose mother was born in the Philippines, would love to be a part of Gilas Pilipinas someday, but the one-time NBA champion for the Los Angeles Lakers and one-time all-star with the Chicago Bulls said he doesn't want his son to think he's entitled to anything because of his pedigree.

"My son has been coming over to the Philippines. He's very motivated. He's working very hard," said Peace, who was off to the US from China but decided to make a 24-hour long stopover in Manila to get a glimpse of the birth country of Jennifer Ruth Uy Palma, Jeron's mother.

"I told him, just because you're my son, just because you play basketball and you're from America, it doesn't mean you're going to make the (Philippine) team. There are some good players out there in the Philippines. You have to earn it."

Peace said no communication lines have been opened yet between his son and the officials of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the sport's national governing body.

SBP vice-chairman Robbie Puno said he would welcome Jeron joining the team.

"It would be great if Jeron Artest gets to play as a natural-born Filipino," Puno said in a text message to ABS-CBN News.

"Hopefully more Filipino players based abroad will surface. This is what we have been hoping for, that word gets out to Fil-foreigners all over the world."

Puno's optimism is based on the assumption Jeron submitted his application prior to his 16th birthday.

Peace said previously that 16-year-old Jeron is in the process of acquiring a Philippine passport, but it's not clear whether he started it prior to his 16th birthday.

FIBA rules state that, for a Filipino who was born overseas and is interested to play for Gilas, the applicant must have had a Philippine passport before turning 16 to be eligible to join the Philippine national team via the jus sanguinis provision, or the right to a Filipino citizenship by blood relation.

If Jeron's passport application came past his 16th birthday, the only way he can don the Gilas colors is via naturalization.

"Even if he applied when he was still 15, we still have to hope that such application would be interpreted to mean that he had 'availed of that right' to a Philippine passport," Puno said.

While many foreign-born Filipino basketball players have started to come out of the woodwork, they can't just become part of the Philippine team outright because of the FIBA-set age deadline on passports.

Puno and SBP have recently been active in sending out the message "to Fil-foreigners all over the world that, if you can play and if you are eligible for a Philippine passport, then please get your passport before your 16th birthday."

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