MANILA, Feb. 26 (Rahnuma): NBA player Jordan Clarkson expressed his eagerness to suit up for the Philippine national basketball team again in the 2019 FIBA World Cup to be held in China later this year.
“Congrats to my brothers, and the country, such an honor for the country, qualifying for the World Cup. I hope to see you guys in China,” the 26-year-old Filipino-American said in his social network account on Tuesday.
The NBA Cleveland Cavaliers guard had already suited up for the Philippines as a naturalized player in the 2018 Asian Games, helping the team reach fifth place, which is the best-ever finish since the 2006 Asian Games. He finished that tournament with averages of 26 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists.
In his 60 games this 2018-2019 NBA season, Clarkson is averaging 17 points, with 3.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
However, FIBA restricts each team to only one naturalized player, meaning the Philippines would have to choose between Clarkson and Former NBA player Andray Blatche, who acquired Philippine nationality by naturalization.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), the country’s basketball governing body, is trying to convince FIBA to accept Clarkson as a Filipino citizen rather than a naturalized citizen, according to SBP President Al Panlilio.
“We have been trying to convince or discuss the matter with FIBA,” he said, “Everyone is working on the matter and we will do everything we can to make it happen.”
“Based on our constitution, he is Filipino. He has a passport. But he got it after he was 16 years old,” Panlilio added.
It is still not known if Clarkson will be able to play for the Philippines, in the upcoming FIBA World Cup, set to be held from August 31 to September 15 in China. FIBA now still recognizes the Clarkson as a naturalized citizen, and not a local.
Nevertheless, the Philippines has qualified as the best fourth placer following the final window of qualifiers over the last week after beating Qatar and Kazakhstan.
“It’s been a journey and it’s been quite difficult because you know we had a major issue with the Australian incident, the brawl,” Panlilio said.
The Philippines’ campaign looked bleak after it had 10 players, including Blatche, suspended for the shocking fight with Australia last July.
The draw for the 2019 World Cup will be held on March 16. And for now, Filipinos can just wait and see.