NBA Rising Star Jordan Clarkson Expresses Desire To Play For The Philippine National Team

Los Angeles Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson says he wants to play for the Philippines’ national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas if circumstances permit and if everything goes well with the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), Yahoo Sports reports.

“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 shares his willingness to play for Gilas Pilipinas despite his father, Mike Clarkson’s, statement in an email to U.S.-based contributor Homer Sayson, saying that “the timing couldn’t be worse” as Clarkson is preparing for the upcoming NBA season.

According to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), 23-year-old Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson, whose mother is Filipina, is considered a natural-born Filipino and could be eligible to play for Gilas Pilipinas.

A FIBA rule states that a player who wants to play for another country should have obtained a passport from that country before he turns 16. If this requirement is not met, the only way the player can represent the country is for him to be naturalized. However, it is also stated in the FIBA rules that they can only allow one naturalized player on each national team — and the Philippine Gilas Pilipinas team already signed former Brooklyn Nets center Andray Blatche.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios confirmed in a text to CNN Philippines that Jordan Clarkson already has a Filipino passport acquired before he turned 16 so he doesn’t need to go under the naturalization process. However, he emphasized that Jordan Clarkson has just submitted the supporting documents FIBA asked for and he is still waiting for FIBA’s formal approval.

“It’s a process that we have to request and honor. We have to be patient, and we go by FIBA’s process.”

If cleared by FIBA, SBP will also need the approval of Jordan Clarkson’s NBA team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Barrios is hopeful that Jordan Clarkson will be allowed to play for Gilas Pilipinas in time for the FIBA-Asia Championship on September 23, in Changsha, China, to help the Philippines qualify for the Rio Olympics in 2016. In fact, Clarkson was already included in the list of tentative players the Philippine team submitted to FIBA.

In the meantime, Jordan Clarkson already joined the Gilas Pilipinas practice and is set to accompany the team at the 2015 Jones Cup in Taiwan that will run from August 29 to September 6.

It also looks like Jordan Clarkson is enjoying his stay in Manila. Clarkson posted on his Instagram a photo of him and Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao playing, not basketball, not boxing, but chess.

[Image via Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]