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Mystery shrouds Clarkson arrival

JORDAN Clarkson has yet to confirm when he will be joining Gilas Pilipinas in its preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Photograph courtesy of FIBA

National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson will definitely arrive to power Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Basketball World Cup that will be held in the country from 25 August to 10 September.

But the date of his arrival remains a mystery.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio admitted to Daily Tribune that the date of Clarkson’s arrival remains blurry despite the commitment given by his father — Mike — to Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes that he will be with Gilas at least six weeks before the World Cup.

Mike said his son doesn’t want to waste the opportunity of representing the native country of his maternal grandmother, Marcelina Tullao.

In fact, after bannering Gilas Pilipinas in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018, Clarkson was determined to represent the country again, this time, in a stage as big as the World Cup.

After all, Mike used to be a competitive amateur boxer who nearly represented the United States in the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and served in the US Air Force so he knows the value of playing for the country.

Panlilio said they are looking forward to having Clarkson on board.

“I’m not in direct contact with him, but it’s Chot. But I spoke to Jordan’s dad a few weeks ago,” Panlilio told Daily Tribune in a Viber message.

“They all say that he remains committed, but the confirmed date of his arrival is the question.”

Reyes echoed Panlilio’s statement, saying that they have yet to get a solid confirmation from Clarkson’s father and management group.

“Jordan had also been asked to come in as early as possible. We want him to join us in the China tuneup series,” Reyes said.

“That’s where we are right now. But whether he will be able to do so, we don’t know.”

Clarkson’s arrival will be a big boost to Gilas.

The last time he donned the Gilas jersey during the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers last August, they crushed Saudi Arabia at the Mall of Asia Arena, 84-46, where he finished with 23 points, five rebounds and six assists.

Although they suffered a heartbreaking 81-85 loss to Waek Arakji and Lebanon in their second match in Beirut, Clarkson still provided a ray of sunshine as he finished with 27 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

If and when Clarkson arrives early, as what the federation is hoping, he gets a chance to exact payback on Arakji, who delivered a dagger three-pointer in the final 18 seconds off a broken play in their first encounter.

Lebanon, after all, is also competing in a pocket tournament in China together with the Philippines, Iran and Senegal.

Gilas Pilipinas will be leaving for China on 1 August, a day before the pocket tourney in Guangdong tips off.

“Everything we’re doing now in our practices is in preparation for China,” Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said.

“We want to make sure to get everybody ready and improve and continue the development from the strides that we made in Europe and continue working on our game shape, our conditioning.”

“That’s very, very important because we want to make sure that in China, we should be approaching a competitive level already.”

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