The long, anxious wait is finally over for the hoop-crazed Filipinos.
Jordan Clarkson — the Philippines’ finest in the NBA — is set to complete the nation’s slate on the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup this year, per Homer Sayson of SPIN.PH.
Philippine basketball federations chief Al Panlilio made the official announcement on Tuesday as Clarkson is expected to land his foot to the Filipino soil on Aug. 6.
Filipino top mentor Chot Reyes placed the Aug. 1 date as the final day for the microwave guard to report to the national camp before they head to China for a five-day pocket tournament. But a mutual agreement with Clarkson’s party ultimately allowed the Fil-Am star to make a late arrival.
“It’s a good day for Philippine basketball. With Jordan Clarkson on board, the SBP looks forward to a competitive showing against the best in our region,” Panlilio stated.
Speculations were recently scattered around Clarkson’s World Cup availability as he and Filipino phenom Kai Sotto are the only two players from the current participating pool of the country who haven’t practiced yet with the national squad. Sotto took days to arrive in the Philippines as he recently participated in the 2023 NBA Summer League outing of the Orlando Magic.
As such, the hot shot veteran is now assumed to take the naturalized mantle for Gilas Pilipinas with local basketball star and import Justin Brownlee set to move as his significant reserve.
Clarkson, 31, finished his ninth year in the NBA with the Utah Jazz by averaging a career best 20.8 points, 4.4 assists, and 4.0 boards for 61 regular season games in the 2022-23 season. His solid individual season output netted him a three-year extension with the club this offseason which will pay him over $55 million in total.
The former NBA Sixth Man of the Year repped the Philippine flag in last year’s FIBA qualifying tourney for two games, tallying 25.0 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
The Philippines, one of the three hosts of the World Championships, will play against Angola, Italy and the Dominican Republic on the group phase.
The addition of Clarkson is necessary for the Philippines as they aim to compete for themselves to occupy a seat at the 2024 Olympics as the best team in Asia at the World Cup. China (Kyle Anderson) and Jordan (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) have made their own naturalized move to bolster their own odds to book a ticket to Paris next year.