Jordan Clarkson will fly directly to China from the United States to join Gilas Pilipinas in the concluding stages of preparations for the August 25 opening of the FIBA World Cup in Manila, Japan and Indonesia.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said during an interview on Tuesday that the Filipino-American guard will fly to China on August 6 to hook up with the national team, giving the coaching staff of one less thing to worry about.
“One less variable to worry about. Now we have to make sure all our work syncs with what JC brings to the team,” said Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.
Clarkson’s commitment ultimately answers the long-standing question of who will fill the naturalized player’s position in the tournament.
Gilas is slated to compete in a pocket tournament in Heyuan, China, wherein the national team will clash with Iran on August 4 and Senegal on the 6th.
A pair of friendlies against World No. 18 Montenegro and No. 31 Mexico have also been scheduled, with Clarkson expected to take part in the tune-up matches.
The commitment of Clarkson for the World Cup means that Justin Brownlee will not be included in the final roster. The well-loved Brgy. Ginebra import, who was awarded Filipino citizenship in January, has been instrumental for Gilas in World Cup qualifying and the Southeast Asian Games.
Brownlee will instead lead a Philippine quintet that will compete in September’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, according to an announcement made by Reyes at a prior event held at the Meralco facility.
Ange Kouame, the other candidate for the position, will be Rain or Shine’s reinforcement in the Jones Cup, which is set from August 12 to 20.
Reyes stated that the former Ateneo big man remains an integral part of the program and preparation, as he provides a suitable matchup for June Mar Fajardo during practices.