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SBP forms strongest Gilas squad

Eager to recover from its slump, Gilas Pilipinas is now applying finishing touches on its national pool that will see action in the second round of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers later this month.

Sonny Barrios, the newly-appointed spokesperson of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), yesterday said National Basketball Association (NBA) stalwart Jordan Clarkson is confirmed to see action together with a solid cast of players who will be given the marching order of redeeming the country’s lost pride in the international arena.

Joining Clarkson in the national pool is a stellar cast of competitors bannered by Gilas mainstays Dwight Ramos, Thirdy and Kiefer Ravena and Ray Parks.

Also making the pool are frontcourt youngsters Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao as well as rising star LeBron Lopez.

But Clarkson, the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2021, will have to play as a naturalized player, which means that Angelo Kouame has to sit out should he formalize his entry.

“He won’t be able to play as a local and we have already accepted that his classification in FIBA (International Basketball Federation) is naturalized,” said Barrios during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum yesterday.

“We tried really hard to push for it.”

“But we will use him as a naturalized (player). There’s no turning back.”

Barrios, however, deferred to name the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) players included in the pool as the federation will reveal the complete list after the ongoing Philippine Cup semifinals.

The all-Filipino tourney is already halfway through with TNT Tropang Giga and Magnolia, as well as Meralco and San Miguel Beer facing off in Game 4 today.

The Nationals will battle Lebanon in Beirut on the 25th, before returning to the Mall of Asia Arena against Saudi Arabia four days later.

“So far, we have Mr. Clarkson and those who are playing abroad like Dwight, the Ravena brothers and Bobby Parks,” Barrios said.

“You (also) have Francis Lopez and we’re looking at collegiate players like Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao.”

“We will not release the pool until after the semifinals so those who are currently playing will not get distracted. That’s why we are keeping quiet about the PBA players.”

Although the full lineup has yet to be revealed, several PBA players like reigning Most Valuable Player Scottie Thompson, Calvin Oftana, Jaime Malonzo and CJ Perez are likely to join the pool.

Clarkson might come in late for the team practices on 15 August, but Barrios assured that the 6-foot-4 swingman is fully committed to joining the team in its preparations.

The SBP executive also said they are keeping their fingers crossed in bringing in Kai Sotto to provide extra ceiling against the much-improved Lebanese and Saudis.

The federation is still discussing terms with the 7-foot-3 center’s camp as he recently rejoined Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League in Australia.

Gilas only won three out of their six FIBA-sanctioned games since February, all of their wins came against lowly India.

“Hopefully, everyone will join us for our preparations for the World Cup. We are also hoping that we can get Kai,” Barrios said.

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