Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao bared that he has already included Jordan Clarkson among the pool of players he wishes to have for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in August.
The outspoken mentor said that he has already submitted his preferred roster for the global basketball spectacle to the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas. That pool contains 18 to 19 men, he added.
“I submitted the pool already to the SBP. it’s a pool from where we will pick the final twelve once we get closer to the FIBA World Cup,” he said.
“Nilagay na naman doon sa pool na yun si Jordan Clarkson.”
Guiao did such even if the international basketball federation has yet to decide if the young NBA star with the Cleveland Cavaliers could play for the Philippine national team as a local.
The decorated coach is well aware of it. But his inclusion of Clarkson to the pool is somehow a contingency plan, as he could be one of Gilas’ naturalized players along with Andray Blatche.
“We’re still hoping that a miracle happens. But at the same time, it’s also a backup plan,” Guiao shared.
“Knock on wood, I hope nothing happens, no harm comes to Andray but at least we have options on the naturalized players if anything untoward happens. But we’re hoping and praying that we stay healthy.”
Clarkson has long been eyed by the SBP since 2015 — or since the Gilas program was still under coach Tab Baldwin — as he was included in the pool for that year’s FIBA Asia Championship.
SBP president Al Panlilio has said back in 2018 that the federation was “moving heaven and earth” to have Clarkson’s services for the Asian Games of that year, and their wish got granted.
Clarkson and Gilas would then finish at fifth in the Asiad, the country’s best finish in the quadrennial meet in 16 years.
But unfortunately, up to now, and with the four years that have passed, the SBP’s wish to have the 6-foot-5 Clarkson as a local in FIBA-sanction tournaments has yet to be granted.
That, however, does not mean that the SBP is giving up in having the 27-year-old guard as a local.
“We’re still not giving up on the effort to play him as local,” said Guiao, who’s had the luxury to coach Clarkson in the Asian Games, “but kung hindi naman, backup siya ni Andray as naturalized.”
Meanwhile, with regards to the whole pool, Guiao did not mention any other players he has included. He said that the the SBP will approve it first, and then release it to the public afterward.
“Hindi ko pa masabi yung iba. That’s still for the final approval of SBP and MVP. Once they approve that, I submitted it today, sila na magri-release noong final pool,” Guiao said.
“There are about eighteen to nineteen guys there.”
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