Gilas Pilipinas head coach Joseller ‘Yeng’ Guiao included Filipino American NBA star Jordan Clarkson to the national team pool for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Guiao explained on Monday, July 15, that Clarkson will serve as a back-up naturalized player in case ‘anything untoward happens’ with naturalized player Andray Blatche, a mainstay of the Gilas Pilipinas team.
“I hope nothing happens, no harm comes to Andray but at least, we have options on the naturalized player,” the coach told reporters after the practice of the national team at the Meralco Gym in Pasig.
Guiao also remains hopeful that the Samahang Baseketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) will succeed in their appeal to the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) to have Clarkson play as a local player of the Philippine team.
“We’re still not giving up on the effort to play him as local, but kung hindi naman back-up siya ni Andray as naturalized,” Guiao said.
Clarkson, who currently plays for the NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers, previously played for the national team during the 2018 Asian Games, which ran from August 18 to September 2 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The NBA star’s capability to join the Philippine team in FIBA organized tournament is hindered by the fact that he obtained his Filipino passport after reaching the age of 16 years old.
Per eligibility rules of FIBA, foreign-blood players must have national passports before reaching the age of 16 years old in order to qualify as a local player of a country.
Meanwhile, aside from Clarkson, the 19-man national team pool released by the SBP later that night also includes Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Mark Barroca, Beau Belga, Andray Blatche, Robert Bolick, Poy Erram, Junemar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, CJ Perez, Roger Pogoy, Stanley Pringle, Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Christian Standhardinger, and Matthew Wright.
Guiao said that the pool will be reduced to 12 players before the start of the World Cup that will be held in China from August 31 to September 15.