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Clarkson arrival set; Sotto still no show


‘I don’t want to comment on it, let’s just wait for Kai to be here.’

Strong start, but not enough for NBA star Jordan Clarkson. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FIBA

Jordan Clarkson is finally set to join Gilas Pilipinas.

No less than Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio made the confirmation to Daily Tribune, saying that the National Basketball Association standout is set to join Gilas Pilipinas on 6 August in a pocket tournament in China as part of its preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Initially, Clarkson and his father, Mike, committed to join the squad six weeks before the prestigious 32-nation event that is set to fire off on 25 August.

But the deal collapsed as the Utah Jazz star didn’t show up when Gilas Pilipinas arrived from its two-week training camp in Estonia and Lithuania.

Sideliners claimed that Clarkson couldn’t come up with a solid commitment as he was focused on renegotiating his contract with the Jazz during the NBA offseason. Clarkson, however, eventually agreed to a three-year, $55-million deal, formally removing the roadblock for his return to Gilas.

Now, Panlilio said Clarkson is ready to join Gilas, formally putting an end to speculations that Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import Justin Brownlee will serve as the country’s naturalized player in the world’s most prestigious basketball event.

Brownlee, instead, will be fielded in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou from 23 September to 8 October.

“Yes,” Panlilio said in a Viber message when asked if the federation had already reached a deal with the 31-year-old Clarkson.

“He will be joining us on 6 August in China.”

But if Clarkson is already set to arrive, another elite talent in Kai Sotto is still taking his sweet time before joining the national squad.

Despite arriving in the country last week, the 7-foot-3 Sotto has yet to join the Gilas training at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.

Instead, he was spotted watching a basketball game in Las Piñas City before strolling in a mall in Alabang on the day Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes presided over a training session on Monday night.

When asked for comment about Sotto’s continuous absence, Reyes seemed exasperated.

“I don’t want to comment on it, let’s just wait for Kai to be here,” said Reyes, who gave the absentees — Clarkson and Sotto — only until Tuesday to show up for training.

Reyes, however, clarified that they can still bend the deadline depending on the explanation of Clarkson and Sotto.

“That’s not a deadline as in a hard deadline,” Reyes said.

“But in our minds, the coaching staff, it’s just the kind of time that we need to put together our best preparation before the World Cup. But even before that, we’ve already been preparing, practicing because we know that there are going to be a lot of contingencies that come into putting this team together.”

Gilas will be leaving on 1 August for a four-nation pocket tourney in China where they will face the national squads of Iran, Lebanon and Senegal.



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