By REY C. LACHICA
PARIS, France – Who is best for Gilas Pilipinas for the coming FIBA World Cup in Manila?
Is it Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson or naturalized Justin Brownlee?
That question divides millions of Filipino fans, knowing too well both players are vital to the success of PH campaign in the event that lures the best both from the United States and Europe.
But why not both them?
That was the question raised by PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas during a lunch Thursday, May 24, in a Chinese restaurant in this charming French capital where the PBA Board will be holding an annual planning.
“Brownlee has the strongest case as a naturalized having been in the country since 2016,” said Vargas. “We have also requested FIBA (International Basketball Federation) in the past and we are going to try again.”
“For the country, we will try our luck this time and hopefully we get a positive response being one of the hosts,” added Vargas, who is going to sit down with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Al Panlilio once he returns to the country.
Having both Clarkson, a certified NBA star, and Brownlee, who is very familiar to Filipino’s brand of play – not to mention the country’s passion to the sport – will be a plus factor in their bid to beat World Cup Group A rivals world No. 24 Dominican Republic and No. 41 Angola.
The other is Italy, ranked No, 10 and a squad backstopped by NBA star Danillo Gallinari.
Gilas is not only preparing for the coming World Cup, but also for next year’s Paris Games so it needs to play extra sharp and smart to have a fair chance of emerging as the best Asian team.
The top Asian finisher in the FIBA World Cup will earn outright slot to the Paris Games.
Gilas is hell-bent of matching its incredible showing in the 2014 edition in Spain that saw the Nationals beat Senegal and gave Croatia, Puerto Rico and Argentina some hellish moments.