by Jonas Terrado
Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao on Monday included NBA player Jordan Clarkson in the FIBA World Cup pool despite his eligibility status still being determined by basketball’s world governing body.
Guiao said he included Clarkson in the pool in case FIBA rules him eligible to suit up as a local or fill the naturalized player slot in case Andray Blatche suffers an injury before the Group F opener against Italy on Aug. 31 opener in Foshan, China.
“We’re still hoping for a miracle but at the same time it’s also a backup plan,” Guiao said after Gilas’ practice Monday night at the Meralco Gym.
“I hope, knock on wood, nothing happens and no harm comes to Andray. But at least we have options on the naturalized players if something anything untoward happens,” Guiao added.
Blatche took part in his first practice on the same day, though his fitness and familiarity to Guiao’s playbook will one of the things that will be worked out before the World Cup.
FIBA has yet to rule with finality Clarkson’s eligibility since the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas brought it up in 2015, though the Cleveland Cavaliers guard claimed that he secured a Philippine passport before the age of 16.
Players carrying a Philippine passport before the said age can suit up as a local in FIBA-sanctioned competitions.
Clarkson represented the country last year when the Nationals placed fifth in the Indonesia Asian Games under Guiao’s tutelage.
Rules different from the ones implemented by FIBA allowed the Philippine side to play Clarkson, Stanley Pringle and Christian Standhardinger. Both Pringle and Standhardinger are listed as naturalized players by FIBA.
Other players listed in the pool are Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan, Mark Barroca, Beau Belga, Robert Bolick, Poy Erram, Marcio Lassiter, June Mar Fajardo, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, CJ Perez, Roger Pogoy, Pringle, Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, Standhardinger and Matthew Wright.