The possibility of playing with Jordan Clarkson is one of the reasons why AJ Edu is excited to see action for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Basketball World Cup set from 25 August to 10 September.
Edu said he never had the chance of playing with a legitimate National Basketball Association player so the idea of manning the frontcourt with Clarkson will be a very exciting opportunity.
The 23-year-old Edu arrived on Wednesday night and declared readiness to join Gilas training that will start next week.
The 6-foot-10 forward is tipped to be a nucleus of the tallest Gilas Pilipinas squad ever assembled together with 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto, 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo and 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar.
“I’m excited. This is something I dreamed of since I was young, to represent the country, not only in the junior level, but in the men’s team as well,” Edu told Daily Tribune in an interview.
He added that playing with Clarkson, the Utah Jazz swingman who will suit up as the country’s naturalized player, would be “amazing.”
“I never had an opportunity to play with an NBA player,” Edu said.
“So, getting this opportunity, that would be amazing.”
Edu is coming off training in Brisbane in preparation for the rigid Gilas camp.
He, however, tweaked his ankle and was limping as he was walking into the arrival area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Edu said it was not a big deal.
“My agent is an Australian, so I was given an opportunity to train in Brisbane, right after attending school in Toledo,” said Edu, the first abroad-based player to report for duty as Japan B. League campaigners like Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks, and Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena have yet to come home.
Sotto, on the other hand, is continuously pursuing his dream of becoming the first full-blooded Filipino in the NBA as he is still working out with Utah Jazz.
Edu said he is coming locked in and committed to fight for a spot in the World Cup against the likes of quality big men like Fajardo, Aguilar and 6-foot-7 Mason Amos.
“I’m very excited. I can’t wait for it,” he added.
Gilas Pilipinas is embarking on a non-stop training for three months in preparation for the World Cup, including a camp in Lithuania and the Baltic region, a pocket tournament in Estonia, where it plays the Estonian national team and Finland, and a possible stopover in Latvia.