Los Angeles Lakers Star Jordan Clarkson Won’t Play for Philippines in 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Los Angeles Lakers rising star Jordan Clarkson has expressed interest in playing for the Philippines in international tournaments, but the Filipino-American guard will have to wait a bit longer before donning the national colors.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the national sports association for basketball in the Philippines, confirmed that Clarkson will not suit up for the country in the upcoming 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila in July.
SBP president Manuel Pangilinan told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday that they opted not to push for Clarkson’s eligibility, saying that the process will take more time before it can be finalized.
“The arrangement with Jordan is a little bit more complicated,” Pangilinan told reporters, when asked about Clarkson. “He is an NBA player. Everything has to be done right.”
Clarkson, who is playing in his second season in the NBA, will be a restricted free agent after the 2015-16 NBA season. The 23-year-old is expected to get offers from several teams this summer, as he was named to the All-Rookie first team last year and has posted 15.6 points per game this season.
Clarkson’s impending free agency was already viewed as the biggest hurdle to his desire to play for the Philippines in the Olympic qualifier this year. SBP was also required to prove to FIBA that the former Missouri standout is eligible to play as a local for Gilas Pilipinas, the country’s national basketball squad.
Pangilinan also confirmed that FIBA suggested to choose between Clarkson and naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche. The basketball patron said they opted to pick Blatche, but SBP executive director clarified that it does not mean Clarkson will not be allowed to play as a local in the future.
“There’s no definite ruling that he cannot qualify as a local, but we will work on it if we want to pursue it,” Barrios said during the press conference. “But for now, we prefer not to dwell on it.”
Philippines will look to book one of the three remaining tickets to the 2016 Rio Olympics but will have to beat powerhouse teams France, Canada, Turkey, New Zealand and Senegal in the Manila leg of the 2016 OQT.