MANILA, Philippines – If there is a player who can afford to miss significant practice time with Gilas Pilipinas in its FIBA World Cup buildup, it is NBA standout Jordan Clarkson.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Sonny Barrios said the Filipino-American guard committed to join the national team at least six weeks before the global hoops showdown in August next year.
Although that is half of the Nationals’ planned three-month preparation, Barrios said the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year has what it takes to immerse himself in the team in such a short amount of time. (READ: After best efforts, SBP accepts Clarkson’s final status as naturalized Filipino)
“I think he is the only player who can be exempted from [joining the team late],” Barrios said in a mix of Filipino and English during the recent Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.
“There is no other personality who has the caliber to join the team with only six weeks to go. If other players fail to join the team in training two months before the World Cup, they will not be considered by the coaching staff.”
The 2022-2023 NBA season will run starting in October until June next year, less than two months before the World Cup.
While Clarkson and the Utah Jazz have been a perennial playoff team, it is uncertain whether the squad would reach the postseason after trading three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
There are also talks of the Jazz planning to trade three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell.
A regular season exit for Utah, though, could mean an earlier reunion between Clarkson and Gilas Pilipinas before the World Cup.
“He is very raring to go. That is what is good about him,” Barrios said.
“So we’re calling our quote-unquote locals, if Jordan – who is an NBA player – is enthusiastic to play for our country, I hope all the players that we’re tapping is just as eager.”
Clarkson is expected arrive in the country next week to reinforce the national team for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers later this month. – Rappler.com