US college star may play for RP five

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — HIS name does ring a bell as he has made quite an impact in the US NCAA while playing for George Mason.

But who is Gabe Norwood?

Norwood, an American collegiate standout, has a quarter of Filipino blood and is excited to learn about the possibility of representing the Philippines in the Olympic qualifying FIBA-Asia Championship.

He played for the national team handled by coach Chot Reyes during the Filipinos’ several tune-up matches in Carlson, California and quickly impressed everyone with his flexibility and athleticism.

And he is seriously being considered to join the SMC-RP squad along with Fil-Am rookie Kelly Williams and former PBA MVP Willie Miller.

But there’s a hitch.

Norwood has yet to avail of a Philippine passport and has to fix this problem the soonest possible time to join the squad in Belgrade.

The Nationals will stay in the camp in Belgrade from June 12-20 in between tune-up matches with the bigger and stronger European players.

“We are still fixing the exact date of his arrival. Malamang, he will meet us in Belgrade,” said SMC-RP assistant coach Aboy Castro.

Once a visitor in the country with Athletes in Action, a sports ministry that allows athletes to communicate their faith to those in other parts of the world, Norwood and his squad played six different teams sent around the world.

Norwood made the obvious choice of traveling to the South Pacific to go back to his roots in the Philippines.

“I was blessed with the opportunity to travel with Athletes in Action to the Philippines. We played against numerous college teams and the Filipino National Team. Being one-quarter Filipino, it might give me the opportunity to be part of their Olympic Team in 2008,” said Norwood in one of his interviews.

An intelligent athlete, he played in all 35 games in the 2005-06 season and was sixth on the team in minutes played.

While Norwood is so excited to suit up for the Philippines, Kelly Williams appears to be less interested.

Buddy Encarnado, Sta. Lucia’s representative to the PBA board, has reportedly allowed Williams to join the RP squad, but the Fil-Am rookie swingman, top overall pick in the last PBA draft, is still thinking whether or not to join the team.