NBA: No go
The National Basketball Association has provided the downer to what was initially billed as a festive mood for Philippine basketball with Jordan Clarkson in the coming 18th Asian Games.
After pulling out all the stops for Clarkson’s inclusion, the Philippine Olympic Committee expressed utmost dismay after the Filipino-American was not allowed by the NBA to suit up for the men’s basketball team in Indonesia.
“I am at a loss for words. All I can say is ‘NBA, you broke our hearts,’” said POC secretary general Patrick Gregorio immediately after the NBA released the jaw-dropper on Sunday.
“You broke the hearts of 100 million Filipinos. We will never forget this,” added Gregorio.
NBA spokesperson Tim Frank said the Asian Games is excluded from the list of competitions agreed upon by the league and the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) where NBA players can wear their national colors.
The NBA put the hammer down and officially barred the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard from playing in the Asiad after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas tried to iron the kinks for almost three weeks.
In fact, the POC worked nonstop to get Clarkson into the 12-man lineup, securing the green light both from the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (Inasgoc) and the Olympic Council of Asia, co-organizers of the continental sportsfest.
“We tried our very best. Your Philippine sports leaders worked round the clock. So many sleepless nights. We were one clearance away … from a dear friend of the Filipino people. The NBA. Or so we thought,” said Gregorio.
“Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears. They applied a rule. A rule that will never be understood,” he added.
Frank, however, clarified that Clarkson could see action for the Philippines in the Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers and other tournaments under the Fiba calendar.
National coach Yeng Guiao said they would request that Don Trollano replace Clarkson, who is also being eyed as the flag-bearer of the Philippine delegation, in the roster.
The Philippines will send a 12-man team to the Asian Games composed mostly of Rain or Shine players in an effort to improve on its seventh-place finish in the 2014 Incheon Games.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) made a last-minute push but failed to tap the services of Jordan Clarkson for the Asian Games.
Veteran guard Chris Tiu admitted having Clarkson play for the Philippines in Indonesia was a “long shot.”
Tiu, one of five Rain or Shine players in the national team, said there’s just one too many hurdles to go through.
“To begin with we never really expected him to be available anyway because it’s really a long shot,” said Tiu, an original member of the Gilas program formed in 2009.
Still, the 33-year-old Tiu commended the SBP’s efforts to get Clarkson, who was included in the final lineup.
The Philippine team flies to Jakarta on Sunday night.
Gilas opens its campaign on Thursday against Kazakhstan before clashing with China on Aug. 21. —WITH A REPORT FROM MARK GIONGCO, INQUIRER.NET
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