Reality check: ‘No guarantee’ Gilas can get Clarkson back on board

JR Isaga
Despite the challenges, SBP remains 'committed to get' Jordan Clarkson for the 2019 FIBA World Cup


FIBA WISH. If Jordan Clarkson doesn’t get FIBA clearance, Gilas coach Yeng Guiao says he’s happy with his current roster. Photo by Adrian Portugal/Rappler


MANILA, Philippines – Not long has passed since Gilas Pilipinas clinched a spot in the 2019 FIBA World Cup after a last-gasp winning campaign in the final window of the qualifiers. 

However, as early as now, the basketball-crazy nation is already abuzz with clamors for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to insert Fil-Am Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson back in the national team lineup. (READ: Clarkson fuels Gilas #LetJordanPlay World Cup clamor)

And in a special press conference held at the Meralco compound on Thursday, February 28, the country’s top hoops governing body hasn’t changed its tune regarding the 6-foot-5 NBA sensation.

“It’s really anybody’s personal wish that Jordan be part of this team,” said SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan. “But with respect to the FIBA culture, we’ll certainly do our best to persuade them. We’re committed to doing our best to get Jordan Clarkson in this team. But no assurances nor guarantees that it will happen.”

Even with the multitude of hurdles regarding Clarkson’s eligibility and availability for Gilas, head coach Yeng Guiao has remained positive in addressing the situation.

“I don’t think there’s any one single Filipino who doesn’t want Jordan Clarkson in the team,” he said. “All of us want him in the team, but it’s really up to our bosses with what we can do about it. I can’t do anything about it, but I do want him on the team.”

As of now, the Nationals’ chief tactician is more focused on immediate preparations involving the team and its leading naturalized star, Andray Blatche. (READ: Stars align: Gilas Pilipinas advances to FIBA World Cup)

Mahihirapan na naman si [PBA commissioner] Willie [Marcial] na mag-ayos ng schedule,” he joked. (PBA commissioner Willie Marcial will have a hard time fixing the schedule again.) 

Turning serious, he continued: “For one, we would like to able to participate in the Jones Cup. It’s the logical thing for us now. I don’t know if that’s going to fit in the schedule but that’s just top of mind. Then we form the team as early as we can. Actually Andray Blatche, I think the most logical thing here is to keep him in the team and probably get him in early before the World Cup itself.”

Although there’s a chance that FIBA grants Clarkson playing clearance as a local, Guiao stated that he’s already contented with the guys currently under his wing.

Still, he’s “keeping an open mind” if ever the stars align one more time. –