Rising NBA star Jordan Clarkson said Thursday he is eager to play for the Philippines’ national basketball team despite citizenship concerns from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
“I want to assure my Filipino brothers and sisters that, if given the chance and everything can be worked out, I sincerely wish to play for Gilas and contribute to the total team effort for flag and country,” Clarkson said in a statement released by the Basketball Association of the Philippines (SBP).
Clarkson, whose mother hails from the Philippines, is visiting the basketball-crazy Southeast Asian nation and has joined the national team, Gilas Pilipinas, for practice.
The 23-year old, who plays guard for the Los Angeles Lakers, said that he was in the country to familiarise himself with the national team and would even accompany them when they play at the 2015 Jones Cup basketball tournament in Taiwan.
The basketball association’s executive director Sonny Barrios said he was hopeful they could clear all the requirements of FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, in time to get Clarkson to play for Gilas in China in September at the Asia qualifying round for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics.
“He is simply stating his willingness, he is not stating that he will play,” Barrios clarified.
Barrios told AFP that the association was rushing to submit the documents that would allow Clarkson to play as a Filipino for Gilas Pilipinas in the Olympic qualifier.
The deadline for naming the Philippine team for the qualifier is September 8 but Barrios said they would have to submit Clarkson’s documents even sooner.
“We have to submit it ASAP so they will still have time to evaluate. I am racing against time,” he said.
FIBA rules allow one naturalised player on each national team but the Philippines already has a naturalised player in its squad, former Brooklyn Nets centre Andray Blatche.