By Julius Manicad
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is still counting on Jordan Clarkson to join the national men’s basketball team in the 18th Asian Games.
A Daily Tribune source yesterday revealed that the federation is still hoping that the Cleveland Cavaliers playmaker will get his clearance from the National Basketball Association to be able to suit up for Philippine Gilas in the quadrennial conclave in Jakarta starting 18 August.
The source said phones lines burned between ranking SBP officials, Clarkson’s parents, the Cavaliers’ front office and the NBA officials in a final effort to have Clarkson as reinforcement of the Gilas Pilipinas squad.
Head coach Yeng Guiao already named the 14-man squad but he left two spots open in case Clarkson is given the green light to compete. The matter will be decided before the crucial delegation registration meeting (DRM) Friday afternoon.
Also sitting on pins and needles is Filipino-German banger Christian Standhardinger, who was already included in the 10-man final roster.
Having both Clarkson and Standhardinger in Gilas’ uniform appears to be a long shot.
According to the eligibility rules of the Olympic Council of Asia, competitors born outside of Asia are not eligible to play unless they live in the country they wish to represent for the past three years and are already permanent residents of the country they want to represent.
Clarkson was born in Florida and has yet to permanently reside in the country in the past three years.
Standhardinger was born in Munich and arrived in the country only this year when he was drafted as top overall pick by San Miguel Beer in the Rookie Draft late last year before competing in the FIBA 3×3 World Cup and the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup.
The SBP remains hopeful, though.
“They’re working on it right now,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
SBP president Al Panlilio confirmed the source’s claim, saying that they are still in the hunt for Clarkson’s services.
“Yes, we still are. We are waiting for the decision on his eligibility,” Panlilio said. “We are trying to move heaven and earth to make it happen. But the stars have to align.”
Chief of mission (CDM) Richard Gomez confirmed the move and stated that deputy chief of mission Robert Bachmann and the Asian Games secretariat were given the marching order to work for Clarkson’s inclusion in the final roster.
Gomez bared that Bachmann will raise the topic during the delegation registration meeting (DRM) on Friday afternoon armed with all pertinent documents to support their bid.
And should Clarkson secure the clearance, he will be tapped as the country’s flag-bearer in the traditional parade of colors following the decision of BMX rider Danny Caluag to beg off from the honor.
He said Caluag had to decline since the decision to have him as flag-bearer came late and he is required to fly in from Los Angeles 10 days ahead of the formal start of his competition.
“We are already working on it. Hopefully, the NBA will allow him to play for the country,” Gomez said, adding that he would surely serve as the country’s flag-bearer should the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee issues the green light.