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WORTH THE WAIT | Clarkson looks good in first Gilas workout


It took few months before Jordan Clarkson came on board to join Gilas Pilipinas in its preparation for the FIBA Basketball World Cup that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September.

But based on his first workout with the team, it appears that the wait is worth it.

A day after arriving in Manila, the Utah Jazz superstar buckled down to work and delivered a sneak peak of what will be expected from him when he formally dons the national colors in the prestigious 32-nation tournament during a closed-door practice session on Wednesday at the Philsports Arena.

Gilas assistant coach Jong Uichico said they started to reintroduce the system to Clarkson in a light workout but the former National Basketball Association Sixth Man awardee wasted no time in making a strong impression.

“He looks good,” Uichico said in a Viber message to Daily Tribune.

“I can’t say if he’s in basketball shape until we play. But right now, we did a light workout with him and more of reintroduction of the system.”

Like Uichico, AJ Edu was also in awe of the performance of Clarkson in his first Gilas training.

“It was definitely pretty surreal,” said the 6-foot-10 slotman who will be making his debut in the men’s team if ever he gets selected to be part of the final roster.

“Someone I’ve watched in TV in the NBA and now seeing him in person was cool. And yeah, he was in great shape as you would expect from a player at his level.”

Clarkson is no stranger to the system of Gilas coach Chot Reyes.

In fact, he blended well with his local teammates when he campaigned for Gilas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia last year.

But in the World Cup, Clarkson has a bigger task at hand as he is expected to lead the Filipinos to a ticket to the Paris Olympics by emerging as the best-performing team in Asia.

Al Panlilio, president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, talked to Clarkson and was given an assurance that he will do everything to achieve the goal of the Filipinos.

“He knows the task at hand,” Panlilio, who met with Clarkson and SBP chairman emeritus Manny Pangilinan on Tuesday afternoon, said in a telephone conversation.

“I told him about the team that we’re doing well defensively, but sometimes our offense looks erratic, but with him there, I know things are going to be a lot better and he vowed that he would take it as his responsibility since that’s his job, to stabilize our offense.”

Reyes said it will be easy integrating Clarkson into his system due to his familiarity with the Filipinos’ brand of game.

“He’s been with us before so he knows the players and knows some of the things we’ve been doing,” Reyes said.

“He’s been working out (in the United States) and we’ve been in constant communication, telling him what his role would be, our plans and he assured me that he’s in pretty good shape.”

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