The Gilas Pilipinas men’s national team 19-man pool for the upcoming 2019 FIBA World Cup in China has been unveiled, and bannering the selection are naturalized players Andray Blatche and Jordan Clarkson.
Blatche has been a regular for Gilas, playing since the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
Clarkson, meanwhile, was finally able to suit up for the national squad during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
Head coach Yeng Guiao said the inclusion of Clarkson is a safety measure just in case the FIBA decides to give the Cleveland Cavalier a pass as a “local” player.
“Nilagay na namin doon sa pool na yun si Jordan Clarkson. We’re still hoping that a miracle happens, but at the same time, it’s also a backup plan,” said Guiao per ABS-CBN News’ Camille Naredo.
“Knock on wood, I hope nothing happens, nothing . . . no harm comes to Andray, but at least we have options on the naturalized players if something . . . if anything untoward happens. But we’re hoping and praying that we all stay healthy.”
Guiao did not name the rest of the pool yet as it will be for approval although regulars like June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, Paul Lee, and Marcio Lassiter should be included.
Guiao added the national team remains hopeful both Blatche and Clarkson could play at the same time.
“We’re still not giving up on the effort to play him as local, but kung hindi naman, backup siya ni Andray as naturalized,” said Guiao.