Gilas 'Final 12' known; Clarkson not included

Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines – Five holdovers from the 2014 World Cup team, three rookies and four national team returnees make up the Gilas Pilipinas team vying for an Olympic berth in the coming FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha China.

World Cup veterans Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris and Gabe Norwood lead the new Gilas cast that also features newcomers Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva and JC Intal, and returning nationals Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss, Dondon Hontiveros and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser.

Taulava, Thoss and Hontiveros have been to previous FIBA Asia Championships while Ganuelas-Rosser has donned the national jersey in the FIBA Asia Cup.

Jimmy Alapag, Gary David, Aldrech Ramos, Troy Rosario and Moala Tautuaa were members of the silver medal-winning Team Phl in the just-concluded Jones Cup who failed to make the Gilas Final 12 for the Changsha Asian joust slated Sept. 23-Oct. 4.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas failed to include Fil-Am NBA player Jordan Clarkson in the lineup due to the conflict of the FIBA Asia schedule to important activities of the Los Angeles Lakers.

“The Los Angeles Lakers management has allowed Jordan Clarkson to play for the Gilas Pilipinas team as long as it will not conflict with the schedule of the NBA,” said an SBP statement.

“Unfortunately, under this limitation, Jordan Clarkson can only participate in the elimination phase of the tournament,” the SBP added. “This scheduling issue is distinct only to the FIBA Asia zone. And it does not occur in the other FIBA zones. By this token, we will ask FIBA Asia to consider holding the tournament in the same manner as FIBA Americas, Europe, Oceania and Africa do, that is avoiding conflict with the NBA calendar.”

Coach Tab Baldwin and his staff took a while to decide on the list, releasing it to the media way past office hours on Tuesday. But it’s inside the 5 p.m. deadline in the FIBA Asia office in Beirut, Lebanon.

Gilas Pilipinas or any team can still make a lineup change on account of injuries during the team managers’ meeting on the eve of the competition, but it requires a hefty penalty.

Blatche and company go to war in China, looking to bring the Philippines back to Olympic competition for the first time in 43 long years.

Bogs Adornado, Ciso Bernardo, Joy Cleofas, Danny Florencio, Jimmy Mariano, Yoyong Martirez, Tembong Melencio, Ed Ocampo, Manny Paner, Jun Papa, Marte Samson and Freddie Webb composed the Phl squad that last played in the quadrennial games in Munich in 1972. Ning Ramos called the shots for this team.

From the new Gilas list, four – Castro, De Ocampo, Pingris and Norwood -- are returnees from Team Phl that finished second in the 2013 Asian meet and in the process grabbed a berth in the World Cup in Spain last year.

Hopes are high the Nationals will figure in the fight for the championship in Changsha with the addition of Blatche, a nine-year NBA veteran who’s a dominant force averaging 31.1 points and 14.6 rebounds in the most recent Chinese Basketball Association season.

The SBP is saddened by the non-availability of Clarkson for the coming FIBA Asia but is hopeful of involvement by the Fil-Am NBA star in future national programs.

“Though the doors on the 2015 FIBA Asia meet have been closed, the future of the national team program is encouraging with Clarkson’s desire to represent flag and country,” said the SBP.

“Finalizing the lineup for FIBA Asia was a challenge for coach Baldwin with the question on the availability of Clarkson looming. But now, the team shall move forward and put together a squad that will go into battle for national pride,” the SBP added. “Clarkson himself realized that his inclusion to the Philippine team at this late hour may possibly distract the focus of the team.”












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