By John Bryan Ulanday
Jordan Clarkson’s inclusion to the national men’s basketball team has yet to be approved, but head coach Yeng Guiao is already grooming him for a major role in the 18th Asian Games set in Jakarta next week.
Guiao said he is planning to maximize Clarkson’s scoring prowess by deploying him on the wings, a role that is contrary to his playmaking duties with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the National Basketball Association.
Hopes are high for Clarkson to make the roster.
In fact, Guiao is reserving the final slot for him after forwarding an 10-man roster to the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) the other day.
INASGOC and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), however, have yet to decide as the crucial delegation registration meeting is still ongoing at press time.
Still Guiao said he already has bigger plans for Clarkson.
“We’ll play him on the wings. He’ll be our wingman,” said Guiao without shutting down the possibility of having the 6-foot-5 Filipino-American backcourt general orchestrate the plays to create mismatches.
“We can still play him as point guard. He will surely create mismatches and would attract double teams in that position.”
As of press time, Guiao has only 10 players in the roster in the Rain or Shine core of Chris Tiu, Maverick Ahanmisi, James Yap, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan and Gabe Norwood alongside Christian Standhardinger of San Miguel, JP Erram of Blackwater, Stanley Pringle of Globalport and Paul Lee of Magnolia.
With Clarkson’s possible inclusion, only one spot is up for grabs with Asi Taulava of NLEX, Don Trollano of Talk ‘N Text and two Gilas cadets in Ricci Rivero and Kobe Paras all in the mix.
Guiao said they are ready to play with only 11 players should the INASGOG and OCA turned down his inclusion.
“We have no update yet on Clarkson. We’ll discuss it with SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas) after practice. But we will still reserve one slot for him. We’ll take that risk,” Guiao said.
“We’ll submit a lineup with his name. In case he doesn’t get an approval, we’ll try to ask for a replacement. But if not, then we’ll have to play 11 players only. That’s the risk. I hope it will be worth it.”
Guiao reiterated that having Clarkson on the squad gives him a “beautiful problem” as he will have another explosive weapon to use despite fears that the Cavaliers standout has very limited to train with the squad.
“Yes, it is a beautiful problem,” he said “But I don’t think it will be a real problem. There’s more of an upside than the downside.”
“I’m sure he’ll be able to mesh with his teammates and into the system.”