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Batang Gilas prospect Ethan Kirkness gets PH passport

The recently issued Philippine passport of 13-year old Fil-Australian prospect Ethan Kirkness. Photo c/o of Michael Kirkness

MANILA, Philippines -- The 6-foot-9, 230-lb Fil-Australian Ethan Kirkness finally got his Philippine passport on Wednesday which is the first step to realizing his dream of representing the country in future FIBA tournaments.

Kirkness, who will turn 14 on February 23, is currently undergoing one-on-one training sessions with ex-National Basketball League (NBL) player Greg Fox according to his father.

"Well, we are still hopeful (on his Batang Gilas stint). I am doing everything I can but as you know he is a big project," Michael Kirkness, Ethan's father, told Philstar.com on Wednesday.

Fox is one of the Gold Coast's most successful basketball players. He played college ball in the US then returned to Australia and suited up for the Brisbane Bullets in the NBL for four years and played his last year in 1993 with the Gold Coast Rollers.

Ex-NBL Player Greg Fox with Ethan Kirkness last December during one of their training sessions. 

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"Greg saw the obvious. Ethan has size which gives him tremendous potential but he needs to be trained differently," said Kirkness on Fox's assessment of his son.

Batang Gilas manager Andrew Teh also positively welcomed the latest development on Kirkness and said he is talking to Fox when reached by Philstar.com.

"Nothing is final with Greg (Fox) as of now. But at least, we got one potential candidate who can train Ethan," Teh said.

The Batang Gilas manager also added that the drafting of program for Fil-Foreign talents based overseas is already in the final stage of completion.

"Basically, we already got the program in place.  Nasa stage na tayo ng funding. Hopefully,  in the next couple of weeks, kung approve na ang budget then we can start talking to Mike (Kirkness) na about our plans for Ethan," said Teh. 

Ethan along with Fil-Nigerian AJ Edu, who is currently recovering from a knee injury, are two of those overseas-based talents that were pre-identified to become part of the national basketball program starting with the Batang Gilas.

Teh stressed again to all other Fil-Foreign talents who would like to become part of the Gilas program to get a Philippine passport before turning 16 to satisfy the FIBA requirement.

"We're in the right path naman so far as to the implementation of the Batang Gilas Fil-foreigner recruitment and training program," said Teh.

Meanwhile, over 200 kids participated in the Batang Gilas tryouts last month. The pool has already been reduced to 20 players and they will start practicing every weekend under Batang Gilas coach Mike Oliver. 

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