by Nick Giongco
As basketball officials silently work for the inclusion of Jordan Clarkson in the Gilas Pilipinas roster, head coach Yeng Guiao can’t help but drool over the NBA starter’s possible stint in the FIBA World Cup in China.
“It’s going to change the complexion of the team,” Guiao said during Tuesday’s PSA Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Ermita.
Guiao said that Clarkson, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers, would instantly make a livewire even against European powerhouse and group are Italy, which is bracketed with Angola and Serbia.
“Our chances (of winning two games) will increase considerably (if Clarkson is allowed to play),” said Guiao.
Only the naturalized Andray Blatche is a shoo-in for Gilas, which will be competing in the worlds for the second straight time in Foshan, where it will see action in the preliminaries.
With Blatche and Clarkson around, Guiao believes beating Angola shouldn’t rank as an upset and turning the tables around Italy is “doable.”
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is moving heaven and earth for the inclusion of Clarkson, who suited for the country in the 2018 Asian Games.
“I’m keeping my hopes up…(Clarkson) will boost the morale of the team,” said Guiao, adding that if indeed Clarkson gets the green light, “it’ll probably the highlight of my (coaching) career.”
To get ready for the World Cup, Guiao is eyeing a trip to Australia and New Zealand and accept the invites to play in Europe alongside other FIBA WC-bound squads.
Aside from Blatche, other confirmed members of the team include big men Japeth Aguilar, Poy Erram, June Mar Fajardo and Troy Rosario and the likes of Jayson Castro and Gabe Norwood.