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Jordan rushes to catch game vs Kazakhstan


By Waylon Galvez


Amid conflicting reports that NBA player Jordan Clarkson finally got the green light to suit up for the Philippine team in the Indonesia Asian Games, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) President Al Panlilio sought last night to temper nationwide expectation.

“Only change now is that OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) reinstated Jordan in the lineup,” Panlilio told Bulletin-Tempo.

The OCA, Panlilio confirmed, has agreed to re-include Clarkson as a member of the Philippine basketball team. The news sparked questions, however, as to why OCA did so considering the lateness of the hour and simultaneously set off roaring speculations that hit fever-pitch yesterday afternoon after PH chef de mission Richard Gomez announced the NBA has had a change of heart.

Panlilio wouldn’t provide affirmation of Gomez’s statement, and no official communication emanated from the NBA, up until press time, that indicated it has wavered on an earlier decision to reject an SBP appeal to allow the Cleveland Cavalier guard-forward to play as a naturalized athlete for his mother’s country of birth in the Asian Games.

Still Gomez’s revelation and additional news from sources that Clarkson, who had expressed disappointment over the NBA decision, is taking the first flight out of Los Angeles and flying straight to Jakarta in time for the Philippines’ all-important opening game against Kazakhstan Thursday morning,  has fanned delirious hopes for coach Yeng Guiao’s hastily-assembled roster.

OCA has the final say on the eligibility of athletes in the Aug.18 to Sept 2 competitions, while the Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) accredits all the participants from players, coaches and officials, as well as the media.

If indeed both OCA and INASGOC have acceded to the Philippine Olympic Committee and SBP plea to let Clarkson in as a 12th man, then all it would take to ignite a full-blown celebration among basketball-loving Filipinos even before the opening jump ball is for the NBA to reverse its previous stand.

On this the SBP maintains its silence although reports had flown back and forth during the week that backdoor talks for Clarkson’s inclusion have commenced among all affected parties, with the active involvement of the Philippines’ foreign affairs department.

Then came the NBA announcement a couple of days ago, with NBA spokesman Tim Frank justifying the rejection through a supposed agreement struck between the professional league and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the world governing body for amateur basketball, which excluded the Asian Games from the list of tournaments where NBA players can participate.