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Jordan Clarkson ‘disappointed’ to miss FIBA Asia

MANILA, Philippines - Fil-Am Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson says he is “disappointed” that he won’t be able to join Gilas Pilipinas at the FIBA Asia Championship, but says continuing to press for a spot on the 12-man roster “would not be fair to the team.” 

The 23-year-old Clarkson, who had accompanied the Philippine national team for part of the William Jones Cup in Taiwan, addressed the media through a press statement issued by Samahang ng Basktbol Pilipinas, saying that he had the support of his father and Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak for whichever direction he decided to take. 

“I had a great talk with my dad. I told him of my experiences with the team and how passionate I was about representing an entire nation. My Dad told me to follow my heart,” the statement reads. 

I spoke to Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, and he shared the same sentiments about representing an entire country and supported my decision either way.”

But Clarkson, who is heading into his sophomore year, would only be available to play in the elimination phase of the tournament due to a conflict with mandatory Lakers training camp, SBP confirmed in a statement earlier, meaning he would only play against lesser teams Hong Kong, Palestine and Kuwait in Group B, and not later match-ups with more formidable squads Iran and South Korea. 

“The Los Angeles Lakers Management has allowed Jordan Clarkson to play for the Gilas Pilipinas team as long as it will not conflict with the schedule of the NBA,” an SBP statement on Tuesday reads.

“This scheduling issue is distinct only to the FIBA Asia Zone, and it does not occur in the other FIBA zones. By this token, we will ask FIBA Asia to consider holding the tournament in the same manner as FIBA Americas, Europe, Oceania and Africa do, that is avoiding scheduling conflict with the calendar of the NBA.”

Clarkson thanked Filipino fans for their support along the way.

The Filipino fans are some of the most passionate in the world and many of them are Lakers supporters. I want to sincerely thank all of the fans who sent me letters of encouragement during these last three months about Gilas.”

The gold medal winner at FIBA Asia will earn entry to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The Philippines will be relying on PBA veterans Asi Taulava, Gary David, Dondon Hontivero, Marc Pingris and Ranidel De Ocampo, plus relative newcomers Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva, as well as naturalized NBA vet Andray Blatche when the tournament takes place September 23-October 3 in Changsha, China.

“We can all agree, the 12 men selected to represent the Philippines in this 2015 FIBA Asia Championship have earned the right and any continued efforts on my part would not be fair to the team. I will cheer them on to gold," said Clarkson.

“Let’s go to Rio!” – Rappler.com