Okongwu grew up in a Filipino environment in Chino Hills, California, which influenced his decision.

Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports - Scanpix
Credit Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports - Scanpix

The Philipines were one of the hosts of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The country's national team, Gilas Pilipinas, was led by a naturalized NBA guard, Jordan Clarkson. Seeing his success, one more NBA player reportedly expressed his desire to join the squad.

According to Naveen Ganglani from Rappler, Atlanta Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu is open to joining Gilas Pilipinas.

The player grew up in a Filipino environment in Chino Hills, California, which influenced him to such a decision, the journalist notes.

Nigeria has also expressed interest in naturalizing Okongwu but Gilas Pilipinas are seen to have an upper hand in the negotiations, Ganglani writes.

During the last season in the NBA, Okongwu averaged 9.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game on 63.8% shooting.

Clarkson, who served as the naturalized Gilas Pilipinas player in the World Cup, said he would like to suit up for the squad again when the 2027 FIBA World Cup comes. 

"Yeah, I think so. 35 ain't that old. 30 is the new 20, right? I still feel young. I am still able to compete. I do not think this was my last performance with this jersey," he declared after the last game in the tournament. "I have more time, and I still can hoop."

Gilas Pilipinas won only one match in the entire competition and finished the World Cup in 28th place, barring themselves an opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

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