FIBA Asia may be in for a big surprise this fall. After naturalizing former NBA big man Andray Blatche, Smart Gilas Pilipinas is on the brink to do it again, this time with Los Angeles Lakers standout Jordan Clarkson.
Clarkson who was thought initially to be ineligible to play for the Philippines National Basketball Team, arrived in Manila on Monday and is currently trying to clarify his status. He previously visited the Philippines in May and that’s when he welcomed the opportunity to play for Gilas Pilipinas. According to the national basketball governing body, Jordan Clarkson has held a Philippines passport since he was 12. To become eligible for naturalization, the player needs to fulfill certain FIBA requirements; having a passport before the age of 16 is one of them. However, there may not be any need for naturalization: Clarkson’s mother is Filipino and he should be considered natural-born, SamahangBasketbolngPilipinas (SBP) – the basketball governing body – stated last month.
The Los Angeles Lakers sophomore was included in the extended 24-man Gilas Pilipinas roster sent to FIBA last month for the upcoming 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in China, scheduled to start on September 23. If Clarkson’s status is confirmed, he will be included in the final 12-man roster.
Official 24-man Philippine basketball team lineup submitted by SBP exec director Sonny Barrios to FIBA Asia last Aug. 20, only players from this lineup may be picked for the final 12-man roster to be submitted by Sept. 8 for the FIBA Asia Championships in Changsha on Sept. 23-Oct. 3 … the players in the “just-in-case” 24-man list are Andray Blatche, Jimmy Alapag, Gabe Norwood, Sonny Thoss, Calvin Abueva, J. C. Intal, Aldrech Ramos, Marc Pingris, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Matt Ganuelas, Dondon Hontiveros, Gary David, Ranidel de Ocampo, Moala Tautuaa, Asi Taulava, Terrence Romeo, JuneMar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Paul Lee, Kiefer Ravena, Jordan Clarkson, L.A. Tenorio and Bobby Ray Parks … all players are Philippine passport holders including Clarkson @draylive @jalapag3 @gnorwood5 @sonny_thoss @8calvinabueva @jcintal7 @aldrech17ramos @jeanmarc15 @jaywill_17 @real_mateo @dhonts7 @gry_dvd20 @teamrdo @agelessasi88 @tbvr07 @saginghilaw15 @ladylassiter13 @lethalweapon03 @kieferravena15 @la_tenorio @ray15parks #LabanPilipinasPuso
If Smart Gilas win the tournament, they will be automatically qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. If they finish second, third or fourth, they will still have a chance to be in Rio but they will need to get over a final hurdle: the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament. With Jordan Clarkson and AndrayBlatche in the starting five though, many pundits are prepared to bet on Gilas Pilipinas. Their major threat at this year’s FIBA Asia Championship is China. Even if they can’t get past the Chinese, the Filipinos will most likely secure a place for the next year’s qualifying tournament. Are Gilas 3.0 ready to make the breakthrough?
About Jordan Clarkson
The 2014 second round pick Clarkson was one of the biggest surprises in the NBA last season. Taking advantage of Kobe Bryant’s absence and of a talented-depleted Lakers roster, the Filipino-American led the offenseon many occasions scoring in double-digits 12 times in his last 13 NBA regular season games, including a career-high 30 points against OKC on March 24, 2015. As a result, he was named to the All-Rookie First Team alongside Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, Orlando’s Elfrid Payton, big manNerlens Noel and 24-year-old Montenegrin Nikola Mirotic. For the year, he averaged 11.9 points, 3.2 boards and 3.5 assists per game. Clarkson also stole some moves from future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant in the process.
By: Florian Gheorghe