LA Laker Jordan Clarkson. File Photo.
MANILA, Philippines - The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is hoping LA Laker Jordan Clarkson could be added as a regular member of Gilas Pilipinas in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship on Sept. 23-Oct. 3 in Changsha, China.
In fact, the national federation included Clarkson’s name in the tentative list of players submitted to FIBA Asia Saturday. From this roster will come the Final 12 for the Changsha meet that serves as the regional qualifier for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The list also includes Andray Blatche, Jimmy Alapag, Gabe Norwood, Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva, JC Intal, Aldrech Ramos, Marc Pingris, Jason Castro, Troy Rosario, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Gary David, Dondon Hontiveros, Ranidel de Ocampo, Moala Tautuaa, Terrence Romeo, Junmar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Kiefer Ravena, LA Tenorio and Bobby Ray Parks.
This means Fajardo, Lassiter, Tenorio and Lee can still make it should they change their mind and decide to join Gilas.
Amateur stars Ravena and Parks are also in the roster of aspirants. But the most surprising entry in the list is Clarkson, a Fil-Am holding Philippine passport and could be eligible as a regular member of the national team under the FIBA rules.
He was to fly in from the United States last night to sign up with Smart Communications as endorser and at the same time observe the training of the national pool.
“God is good to those with good heart and good intention,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios as he expressed hopes Clarkson can make the Changsha meet.
“At the moment, he’s not yet cleared as he has pending issues like the approval of the LA Lakers and his FIBA eligibility,” Barrios pointed out. “But what’s positive is that he’s shown interest and he’s flying 10,000 miles to immerse with us.”
If he passes FIBA scrutiny, Gilas Pilipinas could be a title contender with a roster led by Blatche and Clarkson.
“He’s definitely out of the Jones Cup and other tournaments except FIBA Asia, if and when,” said Barrios.
“But whatever, I’m happy he’ll be here to see for himself the Gilas preparation, to have a bonding time with Gilas players, and the Filipino youth,” Barrios also said.
On the inclusion of Fajardo, Lassiter, Tenorio and Lee on the 24-man roster, Barrios said: “It’s just in case they change their mind like Marc Pingris. If they’re not in the list, there’s no more chance they can make it.”
The SBP official, however, has advised national coach Tab Baldwin “to play with the cards on the table.”
In Estonia, Gilas played in a pocket tourney only with Blatche, Alapag, Norwood, Thoss, Abueva, Intal, Ramos, Castro, Rosario, Rosser, David, Hontiveros, Tautuaa, and Romeo. De Ocampo was out on injury while Pingris is joining the team only upon their return to Manila.
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