Asian Games: Gilas left wondering when they will see Jordan Clarkson in a Philippines jersey again as he prepares for US return
The Cleveland Cavaliers point guard showed his value to the team after impressing in Indonesia
Jordan Clarkson may have lit up the Asian Games in Indonesia despite not managing to lead Philippines to a basketball medal, yet Gilas fans were left wondering when or even if they will get to see their new hero represent his country again just days after making his debut.
Clarkson produced an MVP display in Philippines’ first classification match on Tuesday, putting his team in a good position to secure fifth spot when they meet Syria in their final positional play-off game on Friday.
After leading the team to victory over a depleted Japan with 22 points, six rebounds and nine assists, hopes are high that the NBA star can again lead the charge in the battle for fifth before he boards a plane back to the United States, where he will join up with Cleveland Cavaliers teammates as NBA pre-season training gets underway.
But asked after the win over Japan when the next time Gilas supporters would get to see their man representing his country again following the Games, coach Yeng Guiao was unsure when or even if that could happen again.
“Of course, we want him to return and play for us again as a member of our national team,” Guiao said, “but there are some things to be considered: the schedules and the NBA.”
Clarkson’s NBA side initially refused to release the 26-year-old, who had attempted to represent Philippines in international tournaments on two previous occasions without success. However, after back-channel negotiations, Cleveland’s stance softened and they released Clarkson, who is expected to play a more prominent role for the Cavs this coming NBA season, to compete in Indonesia.
Guiao revealed that the negotiations were tough and may have been a one-time only deal.
“Before we got him to play here we had to go through a lot,” Guiao said. “We need to go through those things again just to allow him to play for the national team in the next tournament, so I’m not really sure about having him.”
Clarkson certainly proved his worth to the team, and Gilas fans will rue a slow start to his Asian Games campaign against China, when he was still shaking off rust from his NBA play-off finals exploits.
Once Clarkson found his feet in Indonesia, he quickly became one of the stand-out performers of the tournament.
Perhaps coach Guiao is already planning for life without Clarkson; spin.ph reported on Thursday that the Gilas coach had extended an invitation to Scottie Thompson, a rising star of the Filipino pro league, to join his squad for the coming Asian qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup. He will have big shoes to fill.