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Clarkson ready for Gilas duty

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by Waylon Galvez

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will reach out to the FIBA to allow Jordan Clarkson to team up with naturalized player Andray Blatche when the Philippines competes in the 2019 World Cup in China from Aug. 31-Sept. 15.

The inclusion of Clarkson, who doesn’t fall under the category of FIBA as a local player despite his Filipino lineage, will be raised anew by SBP president Al Panlilio with basketball’s governing body.

Jordan Clarkson of the Philippines skies for a jam against Japan.

Jordan Clarkson of the Philippines skies for a jam against Japan.

“We are working on it for quite some time now,” said Panlilio in a text message Tuesday to the Bulletin. “We will exert all our efforts just to make it happen for the country… para sa bayan.” [This is for the country.]

Clarkson, whose mother hails from Angeles, Philippines, played for the national team during last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta after both FIBA and the NBA – particularly his team Cleveland Cavaliers – consented.

The Asian Games has a different rule in dealing with players that fall under naturalized player category since it follows its own Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) bylaws, which is different from that of FIBA.

FIBA allows just one naturalized player per tournament, making it virtually impossible for the 6-foot-5 Clarkson and Blatche to team up.

But if the world cage federation reverses its earlier rule on Clarkson, it’s going to be an explosive roster for Gilas in the World Cup following Blatche’s impressive showing in the qualifiers and Clarkson’s eye-catching performance in Indonesia.

Clarkson expressed on his Instagram page @jordanclarkson his desire to play for the Philippines again. He posted a photo of himself in a PILIPINAS jersey with the caption: “congrats to my bros and the country such a honor for the country, qualifying for the world cup, so hyped!!!hope to see you guys in china!!!”

Blatche, a former NBA player, is also looking forward to wearing the Gilas jersey when the Philippines stands side by side with 31 other world-caliber squads.

“Everyone is proud and everyone is thankful. I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to represent the Philippines,” Blatche.

The FIBA World Cup official draw will be held on March 16 in Shenzhen.

Blatche returned to China early Tuesday to continue his stint with the Tianjin Golden Lions where he will play six more games before returning to Atlanta for a much-needed rest with his family.

After that, Blatche said he is ready to resume with the rigorous training for the World Cup, which may include a possible stint in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that allows imports not taller than 6-foot-10.

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