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SBP braces for Clarkson arrival

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will roll out the red carpet as National Basketball Association standout Jordan Clarkson is set to arrive to power Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

SBP executive director Sonny Barrios yesterday said the Utah Jazz swingman is tipped to arrive on Friday night via a 14-hour non-stop flight from Los Angeles.

He will be arriving with his mother, brother and a trainer from the Jazz.

Clarkson will formally join the team on Saturday, giving him less than a week to brush off the jetlag and build chemistry with his new teammates before flying to Beirut to face dangerous Lebanon on 25 August at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex.

He will also be around when the Nationals battle Saudi Arabia on 29 August at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City joining NBA prospect Kai Sotto, who landed at the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport late Thursday.

Barrios said they expect Clarkson to hit the ground running as soon as he touches down.

“We will check, but I know he will arrive on (Friday) evening,” Barrios curtly told Daily Tribune.

“We’re not worried about Clarkson. He has a very short and fast learning curve.”

This will be the third time for Clarkson to arrive in Manila.

He first visited during a promotional tour with the NBA in May 2015 in which talks about the possibility of playing for the Philippines — the native country of his maternal grandmother — got off the ground.

He returned to the country three months later upon the invitation of then SBP president Manny Pangilinan in which he observed the training of Gilas Pilipinas for the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.

“As a proud Filipino-American, I look forward to my upcoming visit to the Philippines. The Filipino fans have been very supportive of me all year long, and I can’t wait to thank them in person,” Clarkson said during his second visit where he also spearheaded basketball clinics for children.

Three years later, he formally donned the national jersey, powering Gilas Pilipinas to a seventh-place finish in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta.

The federation is looking to make use out of Clarkson’s availability as he will not see action in the fifth and sixth windows since they will collide with his commitment in the NBA.

He is also unlikely to play in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, but he initially committed to join Gilas Pilipinas at least six weeks before the World Cup unwraps in August next year.

Previous Daily Tribune report had it that the SBP is planning to arrange a three-month buildup that will include rigorous training, exhibition matches and pocket tournaments with other World Cup-bound nations.

Clarkson’s presence will further deepen the country’s backcourt that already features Dwight Ramos, Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena and Philippine Basketball Association call-ups like Robert Bolick, Scottie Thompson, Kevin Alas and Chris Newsome.

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