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Guiao puts Jordan Clarkson in Gilas pool, status as local still unresolved

/ 09:08 PM July 15, 2019

Gilas coach Yeng Guiao talks to the national team during Monday’s practice. Photo by Denison Dalupang/INQUIRER

MANILA, Philippines—Gilas Pilipinas is not leaving anything to chance in its preparations for the FIBA World Cup in China in August.

National coach Yeng Guiao said that he submitted a list of names to the national federation early Monday from which the final members of the roster will be selected, and within it were Andray Blatche and Jordan Clarkson.

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“Actually I’ve submitted the pool already to the SBP,” he told reporters Monday night shortly after the Nationals’ practice at Meralco Gym in Ortigas.

The development comes at a time when Blatche, the 32-year-old naturalized big man who helped lead the Philippines in the 2014 edition of the global games, joined Gilas’ practices for the first time.

“It [serves] as a back-up plan,” Guiao explained. “Knock on wood, I hope nothing happens to Andray. But at least we have options on the naturalized players just in case anything untoward happens.”

FIBA, basketball’s global governing body, has yet to determine whether Clarkson should be classified as a naturalized player. Otherwise, he should play alongside the 6-foot-11 Blatche. It has been an unresolved issue that dates back to 2015 when the team was still coached by Tab Baldwin.

Clarkson, a 27-year-old guard who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, traces his Filipino lineage through his mother, who is half-Filipino. He has served under Guiao in the 2017 Asian Games in Malaysia where Gilas finished 5th place.

“We’re still hoping that a miracle happens,” Guiao said. “We’re still not giving up on the effort on [having to] play him as a local.”

Guiao has repeatedly stressed that there are no shoo-ins for the final cut. His pool, though, is comprised of “18 to 19 guys.”

Blatche immediately left the training facility.

Gilas is due for a pocket tournament in Spain and a friendly with Australian side Adelaide 36ers early August.

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Gilas begins its World Cup bid on August 31 in the Chinese city of Foshan against Italy. They are also drawn with Serbia and Angola—which they play in that order—in Group D.

Recently, Clarkson was pictured training in a Gilas practice shirt, which has reignited frenzy among fans.

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