CHRIS McCullough has found an unlikely backer in his bid to become Gilas Pilipinas’ next naturalized player.
Roger Pogoy said that McCullough would be a “fit” for the national team since he is a good “all-around player.”
“Sa tingin ko, oo, malaki rin matutulong niya,” Pogoy said in the 2OT podcast last Saturday, referring to the former Syracuse star who powered San Miguel Beer to the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown over the former’s own TNT squad.
“Kasi fit siya sa laro ng mga Pinoy,” added Pogoy. “Malaki… 6-10 na may laro sa labas, sa loob. Tapos puwede siya sa depensa, na pang shot-blocker. Kasi iyan ang kailangan sa Gilas natin, shotblocker, rebounder, all-around player.
“All-around talaga ‘yung kailangan ‘pag mag-naturalize tayo. So, feel ko puwedeng-puwede siya pang-Gilas.”
Pogoy’s endorsement of McCullough comes as a bit of a surprise. During that testy finals series, the KaTropa guard stole the ball off McCullough and stuck his tongue out at the latter before going for a layup.
Pogoy later apologized for that act and is now intent in trying to help Gilas find a suitable naturalized player who would replace Andray Blatche.
McCullough, 25, was a first round draft choice of the Brooklyn Nets in the 2015 NBA draft and also saw action for the Washington Wizards.
When McCullough came over to reinforce SMB the erstwhile struggling Beermen made a big turnaround from a 2-5 record and eventually copped the No. 7 seed.
After overcoming NorthPort’s twice-to-beat advantage in the last eight, SMB hurdled Rain or Shine in the semifinals and then took care of TNT in six games in the championship series.
In his 16-game stint here, McCullough finished with averages of 32.4 points, 15.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.3 steals, including 31.5 points, 17.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.1 steals and 2.3 blocks in the finals.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio has admitted McCullough is among those being considered for naturalization, along with Ivorian Ange Kouame of Ateneo, Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee and other unnamed prospects.
McCullough, who last suited up for Anyang KGC in the Korean league, has openly expressed his desire to be a naturalized Filipino.
The only knock against the 200-pound McCullough is his lean frame, but Pogoy sees no problem with that with Gilas’ frontline already anchored on June Mar Fajardo.
“Mahaba siya, may timing,” said Pogoy. “At saka may June Mar naman tayo.”