MANILA, Philippines – Seven-foot-1 naturalized prospect Isaiah Austin promises to play with Team Philippines with a burning desire and determination, knowing the passion of the Filipinos in the sport and believing it’s God who made it possible for him to be in the country.
Austin said he can’t promise to play good all the time but can assure the Filipino fans he’ll play hard in each game.
The Fresno, California native, 23, is thankful to the Filipinos for the warm reception accorded him in his arrival Tuesday night and in his first practice with Team Philippines at the Meralco Gym Wednesday night.
Austin and a selection that is still being put up by coach Chot Reyes will carry the Chooks To Go banner in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup set to fire off September 22 in Changzhou, China.
Reyes, the Gilas national team program chief, was ecstatic as Austin came on board.
With his size, talent and versatility, Austin is seen by Reyes as a perfect prospect for Gilas PIlipinas like Andray Blatche.
For his part, Austin expressed excitement and willingness to be part of it.
“I think that God had a plan for me my whole life. He put me in this position for a reason. He put this opportunity in front of me for a reason, for me to chase it, for me to give my all for this country and for this team,” said Austin on a Sports5 interview.
“I’ll try to get the best out of it. That’s exactly what I plan on doing,” added Austin, a standout from Baylor U.
“I’m just going to show my passion. I’m not too worried about how I play offensively. I know that I can score every once in a while. I know that I’m a great mismatch on the court,” he also said. “It’s basketball, (some days) you’re gonna play good, (some days) you’re gonna play bad. But the only thing you can control is your attitude and how hard you play. So I’m gonna play extremely hard. I’m gonna have a great attitude while doing it.”
He’s well aware that basketball is next to none in the country. And that has made him more eager to play for Team Philippines.
“I read an article a while back that FIBA voted them the greatest fans in the world. Who wouldn’t want to play for the greatest fans in the world and be part of the culture that’s all about love and having a big heart?” he said.
“That’s something that really means a lot to me. In my life, I like to surround myself with positivity. That’s one of the main things that has helped me get through all of the obstacles in my life. Just to be here is really heartwarming,” he added.