The 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang will be having its opening ceremony this coming Saturday, and from the early part of this week basketball enthusiasts around the country were feeling the frustration of yet another pipe dream. Just how difficult could it be to have NBA player Jordan Clarkson, a Philippine passport-holder, to play for the national men’s basketball team? An earlier ruling had it that Clarkson cannot play in the Asiad because it was not part of the FIBA-sanctioned basketball tournaments where NBA players were allowed in. But as it turns out, exceptions can always be made.
ESPN 5 reports that Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers will indeed be suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas as they dive into the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. This happy news was shared by Al Panlilio, President of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP). According to him, the governing body of Philippine basketball received a message from NBA Commissioner and COO Mark Tatum, relaying that the US pro-basketball league has granted a one-time exception to allow Clarkson to play in the Asiad. Or rather, this exception was extended to three NBA players in total to play for their home countries.
For the journey of Gilas Pilipinas in the Asiad, they have the unenviable position of being grouped in with countries that field formidable basketball teams like Kazakhstan and China. Normally the inclusion of Jordan Clarkson to the national team roster will be a boon to its competitive strength. However the other two NBA players that were granted the Asian Games exception are all Chinese players: Houston Rocket Zhou Qi and Dallas Maverick Ding Yanyuhang. Apparently the Chinese Basketball Association was also in communication with the NBA regarding its own players. The American league relented due to not having made the FIBA competition exceptions clear to both the SBP and CBA.
Of course, just having Jordan Clarkson be approved to play for Gilas is only part of the larger struggle. He will soon be making his way to Jakarta to join his new teammates and is expected to arrive on Thursday. However, as the Asiad sporting events will already start this week ahead of the formal opening ceremony, this means that Gilas Pilipinas will not have Clarkson around on their very first game in their bracket, which will be against Kazakhstan.
Still, the long sought-after NBA star will be very busy indeed with the Philippine delegation in the Asiad. In fact, the Philippine Olympic Committee is tapping Clarkson to be the RP flag-bearer this coming Saturday.
Image courtesy of PhilStar Global