It's final: Jordan Clarkson classified as naturalized player by FIBA

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 09 2022 02:20 PM

File photo.
Jordan Clarkson competed for the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games. File photo.

MANILA, Philippines -- Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson can only play for the Philippines as a naturalized player, the world governing body for basketball has decided with finality.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on Tuesday confirmed that Clarkson, who traces his roots to the Philippines through his mother, is classified as a naturalized player by FIBA and thus cannot play for Gilas Pilipinas as a local.

"Tinanggap na namin na naturalized lang ang classification niya sa FIBA," SBP executive director and spokesperson Sonny Barrios said during an appearance on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning.

"We tried our best. Maraming pagsisikap na makuha 'yung ating kagustuhan, pero 'yan na nga ho, gagamitin na natin siyang naturalized, there's no turning back," he added. "Naturalized na po siya."

Clarkson received a special exemption from the NBA to play for the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games, where he helped Gilas Pilipinas finish in fifth place.

But because he acquired his Philippine passport after the age of 16, he cannot play for Gilas as a local. 

The SBP spent several years lobbying FIBA on his behalf: as recently as February 2022, Gilas coach Chot Reyes bared that SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan personal advocated for Clarkson to play as a local.

Their efforts were repeatedly denied, however, and Barrios said they have no choice but to accept FIBA's decision.

"We did abandon. It's just that at the level of talks that we've had, kumbaga 'pag sinabing pasensiya na, hindi pwede, then we accept it," he explained.

"Kasi kung sa usapang matino, 'pag nasabing hindi pwede, paulit-ulit ka pa, ang ayaw natin, masagot tayo ng, 'What part of no did you not understand?' Mahirap naman 'yun kung lalabas na mahirap tayong gumets," he added.

"Gets na natin, tanggap na natin."

In February, Reyes said that their hope was for Clarkson to play as a local while Ange Kouame would be the naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas. With that out of the question, the Filipino-American guard will most likely be the Philippines' naturalized player for next year's FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Barrios said the national team will maximize Clarkson's participation; the Jazz guard is set to join Gilas for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers later this month.

"Tayo naman, puspusan tayong gagamitin ang kagalingan, karunungan ni Jordan Clarkson the best way we can," said Barrios.

"We are playing with the cards that are dealt to us. We'll not sit on our hands and feel sorry for ourselves. Hindi natin nakuha 'yung ideal, pero we'll still move forward," he added.


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