Gilas locals jelling with Jordan Clarkson vital in Fiba fourth window
MANILA, Philippines — Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio hopes chemistry between Gilas Pilipinas’ locals and NBA star Jordan Clarkson won’t be a concern in the fourth window of the Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers.
Clarkson is set to make his return to the Philippine men’s basketball team against Lebanon in Beirut Friday, 2 a.m. (Manila time).
Panlilio believes the 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, who last played for the country in the 2018 Asian Games, has nothing to prove and it’s only a matter of how he jells with his Gilas teammates.
“I don’t know whether he has to prove himself because he’s proving himself right? I mean, he’s a sixth man in the NBA, he’s done well. I think it’s more of a team game if we can elevate I guess the performance,” Panlilio told reporters Thursday during the introduction of local ambassadors for the World Cup next year.
“You know, amazing player, a great player, and if we can compliment him with the other players, and we can get that cohesion, that we are trying to achieve, then hands down it should be Jordan,” he added.
Joining Clarkson are Kai Sotto, PBA stars Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Jamie Malonzo, Calvin Oftana, and Chris Newsome, Japan B.League imports Ray Parks, Jr., Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos, and the UAAP Rookie of the Year Carl Tamayo.
Panlilio said the Utah Jazz guard’s first two games as Gilas’ naturalized player, including his first home game against Saudi Arabia on Monday at Mall of Asia Arena, is a “good view of combinations but not a fair view yet” of what the team is capable of.
“This is just two games. It takes a bit of time also to play together so the most important time will be really when we start the three-month period next year and really finding out who the best players will be,” he said. “It will be a good view of what’s gonna happen, the combinations, but again it’s two 40-minute games only. It will give you a view, but not a fair view yet.”
With Clarkson only available for Gilas this August window and will return to the country six weeks before next year’s World Cup, Panlilio said the SBP is also looking for other potential naturalized players to join the NBA star and Ange Kouame of Ateneo.
“As you know, other countries have their own naturalized players and in fact, they get them naturalized easier, for us it takes a bit of time,” he said. “I’m asking for a list from the coaches, maybe two or three names, that we can work with Congress and Senate to naturalize and have a pool of options at least for the team. Of course, Ange Kouame is available also.“