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Lakers clear Jordan Clarkson for Gilas, but with a catch

MANDATORY RETURN. Jordan Clarkson has to be back in Los Angeles by September 28.

Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Los Angeles Lakers have cleared second-year combo guard Jordan Clarkson to play for the Philippine men’s national basketball team in the upcoming 2015 FIBA Asia Championship to be held Changsha, China, which opens at the end of September.

However, it comes with a catch: the Lakers are requiring Clarkson, a member of last year’s All-NBA Rookie Team, to be back in Los Angeles by September 28 for the team’s annual media day that’s mandatory for players, and also for the Lakers’ training camp that takes commences the day after.

“Per the collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the Player’s Association, as long as national team play does not interfere with team requirements and there are no injury issues, it is up to the players whether or not to play,” Lakers Public Relations Vice President John Black told CBSLA.com.

“Our players must be in Los Angeles on September 28, so as long as he would be back by then, we would have no objection to Jordan playing in the event up until that date.”

This puts Clarkson and Gilas in a tricky spot. 

Gilas is scheduled to have their first game of the FIBA Asia tourney on September 23 against Palestine, then take on Hong Kong on the 24th, and Kuwait on the 25th for the first round. The second round of the eliminations will then be until the 29th.

Given the conditions the Lakers gave, it looks like Clarkson, assuming he’s cleared by FIBA to play for Gilas, will miss action for the national team towards the end of the eliminations’ second round and be unavailable when the knockout stage starts on October 1.

The Filipino-American Clarkson, who was included in the 24-man pool of Gilas for the FIBA Asia tourney, was recently with the team in Taiwan for the 37th William Jones Cup but did not play. 

It was revealed by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas director Sonny Barrios that the 23-year-old Clarkson actually availed a Filipino passport before he turned 16 in 2004, making him eligible to be a natural-born player for Gilas.

However, Barrios also said that they still need to get clearance from FIBA for Clarkson’s eligibility after they submitted other supporting documents. – Rappler.com