WILL Jordan Clarkson suit up for Gilas Pilipinas anew?
That is possible.
The Fil-Am guard of the NBA pacesetting Utah Jazz said he wants to play for the Philippines in the coming Olympic qualifying tourneys and in the 2023 FIBA World Cup the country is co-hosting.
“Clarkson plans to return to Gilas Pilipinas in 2023, he said, when the team takes part in Olympic qualifying competitions, including the World Cup, which the Philippines is co-hosting,” Scott Cacciola wrote in a story published by The New York Times last Monday.
“Clarkson said he was hopeful that FIBA would consider him a local player ahead of the next Olympic cycle,” the article added.
The 6-foot-5 Clarkson saw action for the Yeng Guiao-mentored nationals in the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games after he was given the green light by the NBA and his ballclub then, the Cleveland Cavaliers, on a one-time exception.
Gilas, whose core was made up of Rain or Shine, wound up fifth.
Under FIBA rules, Clarkson is eligible to play for Gilas as a naturalized player.
Players the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas are eyeing to be naturalized include Ateneo center Ange Kouame, Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee, and former San Miguel Beer reinforcement Chris McCullough.
Among the three, Kouame appears to be certain to get naturalized as House bill No. 8632 was approved on third and final reading in the Senate last month and is only awaiting the signature of President Duterte.
The NBA’s leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate admitted his eligibility is a big hurdle.
“I think that’s the big thing (eligibility) that’s being figured out right now,” Clarkson said.
Drafted 46th overall by Washington in 2014 after stints with University of Tulsa and University of Missouri, Clarkson, 28, is averaging 17.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game for the Jazz this season.
The Filipino cagers are training their sights in the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers and a Tokyo Games slot in the Olympic qualifying tourney from June 29 to July 4 in Belgrade, Serbia.
With a 3-0 record in Group A, Gilas was set to clash with South Korea last Feb. 18, a reset of their initial match that was postponed in the second window in Manama last November and was also to take on Indonesia last Feb. 20 and then South Korea last Feb. 22 anew.