Getting Jordan Clarkson, Kai Sotto for Gilas Pilipinas remains SBP’s goal
MANILA, Philippines–Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto’s availability for Gilas Pilipinas remains on top of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ wishlist, according to president Al Panlilio.
“I think he’s [Clarkson] always sent feelers that he’s willing to play again for Gilas. That’s something we also need to work on,” Panlilio told reporters during a media scrum on Thursday.
“Kai Sotto is also wanting to play for the national team,” he went on. “We have to respect the calendars and respect their commitments. So we’ll see how we can build those teams together in windows of competitions.”
Clarkson, who is currently playing with the Utah Jazz in the NBA, once played for the national team in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia under coach Yeng Guiao.
Sotto, who officially made his Gilas debut last year, is in Australia playing for the Adelaide 36ers in the hope of cutting a path into the NBA.
Both have been pegged two valuable assets for the Philippines for the Basketball World Cup set here in August next year.
As things stand, the national federation is in the process of getting Clarkson to play as a local, as it is the only viable pathway to enable him to suit up for Fiba-sanction events.
“It’s not an issue only in the Philippines, it’s really a Fiba policy,” said Panlilio. “They’re trying to find a rule that can apply to all countries part of FIBA and that’s something that hopefully we can work on. It’s a wish for us to identify him as Filipino because he’s Filipino.”
Meanwhile, Panlilio also assured that the SBP is hard at work in reacquiring the commitment of other players overseas and those in the middle of varsity duties in a bid to fulfill its promise of creating a “pipeline for the future and beyond the World Cup.”
Among those are big man AJ Edu, collegiate aces Carl Tamayo and Justine Baltazar, and even Gilas draftee Jordan Heading who is in Taiwan. Players plying their wares in Japan like Dwight Ramos and Thirdy Ravena, fortunately, have clauses in their contracts that allow them to be excused specifically for Fiba events, according to Panlilio.
“[We’re] talking about all the stakeholders of Philippine basketball,” he said.
Panlilio earlier said that the national cage program intends to lessen its dependency on the PBA. But considering the number of international competitions lined up this year, it may also need to cast a wide net. The SBP hopes to also address that by keeping open its stream of talent from the pro league.
“It’s been the agreement with the PBA that we will have a Gilas draft (again). I don’t know who the players are coming up in the next draft but again, we’ll have to work with Chot (Reyes), as to who in the next draft would be of interest to the program.”