KryptoNate for Gilas 5?

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New York Knicks guard and two-time NBA slam dunk champion Nate Robinson is part-Filipino. That’s the word from basketball writer Rafe Bartholomew who said Robinson’s mother Renee Busch confirmed the Filipino heritage although the roots are rather scant.

Robinson, 25, is one-eighth Filipino.

His maternal great grandfather was pure Filipino, making his grandfather half and his mother a fourth. Whether that portion will qualify Robinson to play for coach Rajko Toroman’s Smart Gilas team is a question mark.

Technically, Robinson could be considered a Fil-Am or more like an Am-Fil. If he is issued a Filipino passport on that basis as a dual citizen, then the 5-9 human dynamo from Seattle qualifies to play for Gilas – not as a naturalized import but as a Filipino like Fil-Ams Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz.

Of course, Robinson has to agree to apply for a Filipino passport and play for Gilas.

Bartholomew, whose story on the Ateneo-La Salle basketball rivalry made it to the pages of the New York Times, said he recently wrote a profile on Robinson. He interviewed Robinson’s mother for his piece. “Pinoy daw ang lolo niya,” texted Bartholomew, an American, in Filipino from his US cellphone.

Robinson made the sports headlines last New Year’s Day for scoring 41 points to lead the Knicks to a 112-108 overtime win over Atlanta on the road. He shot 3-of-5 triples, grabbed six rebounds and dished off eight assists in 38 minutes off the bench.

What made the feat more remarkable was it was Robinson’s first game since sitting out 14 straight assignments in coach Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse. Robinson’s previous outing was on Dec. 1 when he went scoreless in 11 minutes against Phoenix. Before that forgettable contest, Robinson torched Orlando for 24 points last Nov. 29.

Two days after Robinson’s explosion at Atlanta, he collected six points, six rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes as New York downed Indiana, 132-89.

* * * *

So far this season, Robinson is averaging 12.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 23.2 minutes in 14 games without a single start. He has sat out 20 games, mainly because of disagreements with D’Antoni.

It’s not the first time that Robinson has been at odds with his coach. As a rookie in 2005-06, he clashed with former New York coach Larry Brown who seriously considered demoting him to the D-League before deciding instead to deactivate him for 10 games. Robinson was also involved in fights with teammates Jerome James and Malik Rose, a report claimed. James, by the way, is a 7-1 center and Rose, who once visited Manila, is a 6-7, 255-pound enforcer. How crazy is it for the 190-poundRobinson to engage James and Rose in what a report said were “physical altercations?”

Robinson’s feisty nature was affirmed when he brawled with Denver’s J. R. Smith in a game during the 2006-07 season. He was suspended 10 games by the NBA for his role in the fisticuffs.

Despite his attitude problems, Robinson is a fan favorite in the Big Apple. That’s because being undersized, he plays a lot taller than he is. Robinson never backs down from any challenge or anyone, for that matter, even if he’s seven-foot tall.

In The Star’s sport section last Jan. 3, there was a picture of Robinson scoring a layup over 6-10 Hawks center Al Horford. In case you missed the point, Horford stands over a foot taller than Robinson. The picture said it all.

Robinson averaged a career-high 17.2 points in 74 games last season, his third with the Knicks since turning pro. Yet, he couldn’t wangle more than a one-year extension from New York, straining relations with D’Antoni and management.

While Robinson was chained in D’Antoni’s doghouse, his agent Aaron Goodwin was quoted in media as saying he would press for a trade. Goodwin said the benching was personal and not basketball-related. Goodwin made his comments last Dec. 19.

The NBA later fined Robinson $25,000 for Goodwin’s statements. “Players are not permitted to make trade requests publicly and are responsible for public statements relating to them made by their representatives,” said NBA spokesman Tim Frank.

* * * *

Knicks president Donnie Walsh said he would likely explore trade options for Robinson. But since his 41-point eruption, Robinson has changed his tune, saying, “I want the world to see I can play the game of basketball – this is where I want to be and I hope that I can stay… it’s a new year, a new start and I’m not looking back.”

Last season, New York ranked 14th of 15 Eastern Conference teams and missed the playoffs with a lowly 32-50 record. At the moment, the Knicks are 10th in the East with a 14-20 mark. The team got off to a horrible 1-9 start this campaign.

The oldest of seven children, Robinson lost a brother Deron Isaiah – a victim of sudden infant death syndrome – in 1997. Deron was born on May 21 so that it was significant, if not providential, that Robinson was the 21st pick in the 2005 NBA draft. He was the first University of Washington player to be chosen in the first round since Germany’s Chris Welp in 1987.

Robinson got his nickname “Krypto-Nate” when he jinxed Dwight Howard, also known as “Superman,” during the NBA Slam Dunk contest last year. The Knicks dynamo wore a green New York jersey, green shorts and green shoes to symbolize green “kryptonite” in dethroning Howard as the dunking champion.

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