The Jordan Clarkson effect

FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - September 3, 2015 - 10:00am

For three playing days, he was dubbed by the Philippine media covering the 2015 Jones Cup in Taipei as the Pambansang Cheerleader and why not.  He was very animated and got excited with well-executed plays.   His reaction on the suicidal penetrations of Terence Romeo was priceless, was pumped on Mola Tautuaa dunks and is awed with Asi Taulava enduring longer than the Energizer bunny.  He was an inspiration on the bench, giving high fives and encouragement and yes, was the major attraction on the Philippine delegation being a legitimate NBA star on a high profile team.

Jordan Clarkson flew back to the United States and with only a few minor details to be finalized with FIBA and the NBA, he promised his full commitment to play for flag and country in future international competitions.  He mentioned the need for a skills and conditioning coach for the national team and a basketball program patterned after those of global basketball powers. 

Our national basketball program is not ideal.  If we continue to rely on the PBA for players, it will be difficult to say the least.  Team owners could be willing to give Gilas their best players today but it could be a different thing tomorrow.  Reasons could be valid or stupid and there really is no way to force them if they won’t release their players to the national team. 

Since it is Manny Pangilinan who’s spending shiploads of money for the Gilas, it would be very logical and convenient to pick players from his PBA teams – Meralco, NLEX and Talk ‘N Text.  Consider these people as possible candidates.  Jared Dillinger, Cliff Hodge, Gary David (Meralco), Jason Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Kelly Williams (TNT), Glen Khobuntin and maybe Taulava (NLEX).  Add Troy Rosario and Tautuaa, it already is formidable by Asian standards.

With the core players from the MVP group of companies, talents from two other cooperative PBA teams (Alaska and GlobalPort) can make up the rest of the squad.  The cadet pool initiated by then national coach RajkoToroman in 2011 composed of collegiate and amateur standouts must be revived where future national team members can be picked, if the pro league continues to be selfish.

I’m not a fan of naturalizing foreigners to play for the national team.  Not only are they expensive, we can’t rely on their availability if the need arises.  This year’s edition of the Jones Cup is a case in point. Athletes with mixed parentage is a different story as half of their system is powered by native juices and chances are strong that warrior blood traced from Lapu-Lapu to Bonifacio makes them raring and daring to do battle for the country.

Back to Clarkson.  Scheduled for a meeting today in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Mike Clarkson, Jordan’s pa, are SBP vice-chair Ricky Vargas and PBA board Patrick Gregorio.   They will discuss some more details on Clarkson’s Gilas stint.

LAL’s vice president for public relations John Black gave the go signal to Clarkson to play in the FIBA Asia Championships.  The collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the players’ association allows a player to suit up for a national team as long as it does go in conflict with their team’s programs and schedules.  This is the good news.

The bad news is that all Laker players are required to be in their LA practice facility by September 28.  Clarkson can play with Gilas up until that date.  He has to be in LA on or before September 28.  He can only play in the elimination rounds on September 23 versus Palestine,  September  24 versus Hong Kong and September  26 versus Kuwait.  If we do reach the next round, Gilas will play on September 27 and by that time, Clarkson will either be in transit to or already be in LA.

The first week of October brings the Lakers to Hawaii for their training camp and then follows several pre-season games.   Admittedly, Clarkson’s impact on the Gilas will be huge but let us not push the issue as the present situation allows us limited options.   Maybe in future international competitions and with a better, more pronounced national basketball program wholly independent from the PBA can we see a Gilas squad with Jordan Clarkson.

Let’s stop dreaming and wake up to reality.  Unless we have the heft, height, cohesion and fluidity of the Chinese, the Iranians and the South Koreans, we can never be Asian champions.  What exactly can puso do against highly mobile seven footers?  And we have just kissed our Jones Cup title hopes goodbye when Iran schooled us yesterday, starring Hamed Hadadi, a seven footer with NBA experience who figuratively threw his height and weight around with 22 points and 11 rebounds.  This time, walang laban ang Pilipinas.

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