By REYNALD MAGALLON
Filipino-American NBA star Jordan Clarkson is expected to give Gilas Pilipinas a huge boost for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers next month.
Still reeling from a disappointing 9th place finish in the FIBA Asia Cup and a lackluster performance in the third window of the qualifiers, Gilas head coach and program director Chot Reyes bared that Clarkson, who last played for the country in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, committed to don the national tri-colors anew.
“We also have word that Jordan Clarkson is coming. Hoping to join the team as well to play on the 25th and the 29th (of August). Hopefully Kai Sotto can make it this time,” Reyes revealed during an interview with PlayItRightTV.
Clarkson, who is a former Sixth Man of the Year awardee in the NBA and already a proven crafty scorer, will play as the team’s naturalized player in lieu of injured big man Ange Kouame.
Reyes also shared that PBA players are also expected to beef up Gilas for the coming window where it will play Middle-East teams, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
“We will have some PBA players available because the PBA players will then be in the semifinals or approaching the finals already so there will be already some players available. Very thankful for the PBA forallowing us, lending us those players,” added Reyes.
Gilas will take on Lebanon in Beirut for its first assignment of the window on August 25 before hosting Saudi Arabia on August 29.
The national team will return to its preparations on August 15 when the members of the pool are already available.
“We will only start practicing on August 15 when everyone is available. At least we will see some more players we can take a look at for 2023. That’s part of the plan, the August 25 window,” he added
During the Asia Cup, Gilas paraded a young core that featured the likes of Carl Tamayo, SJ Belangel, Kevin Quiambao and RJ Abarrientos among others to join B.League imports Kiefer Ravena, his brother Thirdy and Ray Parks Jr.