Die-hard fans of our basketball nation are in for a huge letdown.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan earlier said in a media launch yesterday in Makati that Filipino-American Jordan Clarkson’s inclusion in the Gilas Pilipinas squad is questionable. SBP is instead sticking to naturalized player Andray Blatche to boost our country’s campaign in the coming FIBA Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT).
Clarkson, the rising sophomore guard of the Los Angeles Lakers had expressed his desire to play for Gilas, but his eligibility is yet to be cleared by the FIBA central board. He even visited the country in May of last year to celebrate the NBA playoffs. He then returned in August to observe Gilas practices.
In a report from GMA News, Pangilinan said that arranging Clarkson's availability is complicated because he is an active NBA player, with approval needed from his family, his agent, his team, and the league itself.
"We don't know whether he will have enough time to be here to prepare for the event. Safer choice na si [Andray] Blatche," he said.
Blatche is an able point-center who is familiar with Coach Tab Baldwin’s system, so this played heavily in SBP’s choice of picking the naturalized reinforcement for Gilas.
Manila is set to host the Olympic qualifiers from July 5-10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay. The Philippines is bracketed with powerhouse France and New Zealand in group B. Teams in group A that will also compete in the qualifiers are Canada, Senegal, and Turkey.