It had been the stuff that dreams were made of, back in 2015 when speculation surfaced that Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson, at the time part of the LA Lakers, might somehow be able to play for Gilas Pilipinas, the National Men’s Basketball team of the Philippines. Such a possibility would have greatly increased the potential prowess of the team for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship. Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts with the Lakers put a kibosh to that hope. A second try was made for Clarkson at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics but similarly dashed. Could 2018 finally be the time?
ABS-CBN News reports that, in an echo of the Rio Olympics two years ago, the name of Jordan Clarkson, now playing for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, is once again listed at the proposed 18-man roster of Gilas Pilipinas for the 2018 Asian Games this coming August until September in Indonesia. Of course, nothing has yet to be set in stone regarding the participation of perhaps the most famous Filipino-American NBA star in the Philippines. Filipinos might still recall the commercial he shot in the country for Smart Bro Pocket Wi-Fi.
Apparently the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has entered into negotiations with the Cleveland Cavs to work out a reasonable release for Clarkson so he can play for the Philippines on the Asian Games. It is hoped that this can be accommodated in time for the Gilas Pilipinas training camp in the slowly-shrinking window between now and the start of the Games on the third Saturday of next month. ABS-CBN News reporter Steve Angeles managed to catch up with Clarkson in the United States and asked him about the prospect of him playing for Gilas at last. To this the 26-year-old Cleveland guard simply replied with a neutral “We’ll see.”
Angeles also managed to get a few words out of Jordan’s father Mike Clarkson. Here is where the segment suddenly became filled with new hope for a Gilas NBA player. The elder Clarkson remarked, “I can’t release anything right now…but hopefully, we’ll have some good news really soon here, and we’re hoping everything works out.”
The earliest period wherein Jordan Clarkson has discussed his joining the Philippine Men’s Basketball team for major international tournaments has been in 2011, when he opened the subject with long-running national team coach Chot Reyes. It should also be recalled that, upon the lack of time to meet the stringent qualification process for joining Gilas in the Rio Olympics, the team had to go for Andray Blatche instead. Blatche became a naturalized Filipino citizen in 2014. Clarkson in the meantime has had a Philippine passport since age 12, thus needing no naturalization on his part.
Image courtesy of PhilStar Global