SBP hints of Clarkson eligibility
NBA’s Filipino-American standout Jordan Clarkson was expected to plane into the country yesterday supposedly to sign an endorsement deal with Smart Communications. But he could end up finalizing details to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Championship next month.
The Los Angeles Lakers sophomoreguard, whose mother Annette Davis is Filipino, reportedly has a Philippine passport and could be eligible to play for the national team in its quest to return to the Olympics next year in Rio de Janeiro.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios confirmed this possibility yesterday, even though the cage body declined to make a final announcement just yet.
“God is good to those with good hearts and good intentions,” said Barrios, obviously referring to the SBP leadership, led by president Manny V. Pangilinan, which is moving heaven and earth to come up with a competitive team for the continent’s Olympic qualifier in Changsha City in China’s Hunan province.
Clarkson, who earned NBA All-Rookie First Team honors last season, is said to have a Philippine passport that was issued to him when he was still a child growing in the United States—one of the crucial requirements that might allow him to play for the Philippine team.
It was not immediately known where the young Clarkson’s passport was issued.
The 46th overall pick in last season’s NBA Draft, Clarkson could be available for the Philippines when it plays in the Jones Cup later this week. The Jones Cup doesn’t have citizenship requirements, unlike all the other Fiba events.
“The instructions to coach Tab (Baldwin) is to continue preparing with the cards that he has on the table,” said Barrios, referring to the Gilas training pool.
Gilas is spearheaded by former Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche and a combination of homegrown and overseas-born players with Filipino roots.
The 6-foot-5 Clarkson could plug a lot of holes in the Gilas roster left by the absence of some of the PBA’s top players.
A source, who spoke on the condition that he not be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, said the SBP wants to play it safe and make sure that Clarkson would pass all the eligibility requirements of the International Basketball Federation, Fiba.
The same source said the Lakers themselves might prevent Clarkson from playing for Gilas for fear of injuries.
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