FIBA World Cup

FIBA: No Clarkson-Brownlee team-up anytime soon as naturalized player rule stays

Beatrice Go

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FIBA: No Clarkson-Brownlee team-up anytime soon as naturalized player rule stays

FOCUS. Jordan Clarkson in action for Gilas Pilipinas against Angola in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.


Filipinos dream of a team that can combine top talent like Jordan Clarkson and Justin Brownlee, but FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis says the federation has no plans of modifying the naturalized player rule

MANILA, Philippines – A Philippine basketball dream team will not be realized in a FIBA competition anytime soon as FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis confirmed on Sunday, September 10, that there will be no changes to the international federation’s naturalized player rule. 

“The central board is clear on one naturalized player and this is a principle that I don’t see changing,” said Zagklis in a press conference on the final day of the FIBA World Cup, which the Philippines co-hosted with Japan and Indonesia.

The current rule states that each country can field only one naturalized player in a FIBA competition. Mixed heritage players will be considered as local players if they have obtained a passport of their chosen country before turning 16 years old. Otherwise, they will be considered as naturalized players. 

In the Philippines’ World Cup campaign, Filipino-American NBA star Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz claimed the country’s lone naturalized player spot over Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee, who was granted Filipino citizenship in January. 

Filipino basketball fans have clamored for an amendment to the rule in order to make the roster more competitive on the international basketball stage, but Zagklis was transparent that there have been no proposals of a fairer rule within the top basketball body. 

“No one has proposed anything better than that, so we’re sticking to this rule and we have a very experienced team that is reviewing eligibility, the application of this, and we have to be very responsible on how we deal with it,” added the FIBA secretary general.

When Clarkson debuted for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, he teamed up with Stanley Pringle and Christian Standhardinger, who are both considered naturalized players by FIBA. The Philippines finished fifth for its best ranking in the Asiad men’s basketball tournament in 16 years.

Zagklis also raised the concern about ticket prices as Manila venues failed to sell out most of their games. The FIBA official noticed that the general admission and upper box seats were filled up in most games, but there were many vacant seats in the lower box and patron sections. 

“Indeed we would like to have had a little bit higher attendance here in Manila,” said Zagklis, who also acknowledged that FIBA had approved the local organizers’ proposal but will have to make amends in the future.

General admission tickets were priced as low as P499, but patron tickets went up to P25,699. 

Overall, FIBA was satisfied with the hospitality and service of Filipino volunteers and staff, which were vital to its focus on the players’ experience.

“Manila has been an excellent host. I don’t think it’s easy to find this level of service to visitors anywhere else in the world – always with a smile, kindness, and a solutions-oriented approach,” said Zagklis on the efforts of local volunteers and the government in hosting the World Cup that ran from August 25 to September 10. 

FIBA will be holding the 2027 World Cup in Doha, Qatar, marking the third straight staging of the quadrennial tournament in Asia. – 

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Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.