By now, the news has already sunk in. Jordan Clarkson WILL NOT be suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas come the Manila Olympic Qualifiers.
And while the knee jerk reaction by the public was one of dismay, his absence may actually be a blessing in disguise for the future of Gilas Pilipinas basketball.
Here are four reasons why Jordan Clarkson’s absence may actually prove to be a good thing:
THERE’S STILL A CHANCE HE CAN PLAY AS A LOCAL
With Clarkson’s citizenship status still unclear, the FIBA committee was taking no chances that they’d see a repeat of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championships, when five members of the Qatari national team were disqualified for having been granted citizenships just to play.
And because the decision on Jordan Clarkson’s case has the potential to set a precedent, the FIBA committee did what they do best: procrastinate. But telling SBP president Manny Pangilinan that Gilas could only play either Andray Blatche or Jordan Clarkson, they were putting the burden on us to decide.
Had we chosen to play Clarkson in Blatche’s place, it would have been tantamount to us saying we consider him to be a naturalized citizen. And other FIBA countries (especially China, Iran, South Korea and Chinese Taipei) would demand that Clarkson be considered such in future tournaments.
By not playing Clarkson now, we can ask the FIBA committee to look at his documents and finally decide (hopefully, in our favor) on Clarkson’s eligibity as a local player.
WE ADDRESS A NEED, NOT A WANT
Don’t get me wrong, Jordan Clarkson is a world-class athlete and a legitimate NBA starting combo-guard. He’s also heads-and-shoulders above anyone we have on Gilas.
But that being said, the guard position is actually where we are stacked to the gills. At point, we’ve got Jason Castro, aka The Best Point Guard In Asia, who is at his peak, LA Tenorio, who has regained his fiery playmaking abilities, and Terence Romeo, who has been the most electrifying player for Gilas so far.
At shooting guard, we have the rugged Paul Lee and the very deadly sharpshooter from Negros, Jeff Chan, plus a host of wing players who’ll double as midsized shooting guards and smaller-than-usual smaller forwards, like Marcio Lassiter, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, Calvin Abueva, and Ryan Reyes.
So, to be totally honest, if it’s a choice between an NBA-caliber guard and an NBA-caliber forward/center (Blatche is still NBA_caliber, but of a lower caliber), Gilas needs the big man more. And until the likes of Raymond Almazan, Troy Rosario and even Ian Sangalang finally come into their own, we will continue need the NBA-level big man more than NBA-level guard.
HE BECOMES A SORT OF SECRET WEAPON
Sure, chances are he will play with Gilas someday. And many teams (most especially Asian teams) are already thinking about how Jordan Clarkson plays and how to neutralize him.
But until that very first tournament when Clarkson suits up and plays for us, no one will know what to do or expect. And much like what happened in Spain, if other countries can’t prepare for how Gilas plays, especiallt with Clarkson at the heart of the offense, then we’ve got a chance to score an upset or two and maybe make an even bigger splash in the global basketball scene.
WE SHOW JORDAN CLARKSON THAT WE CARE ABOUT HIS FUTURE
This offseason, Clarkson has the opportunity to secure his family’s future. With his sterling performance on a ridiculous Lakers team, he’s set for the payday of a lifetime.
Just how much can Clarkson get this offseason? As much as 88.9 million dollars for 4 years from the Lakers. Or 57.9 million dollars from another team (Arenas provision at work here).
And by not putting pressure on Clarkson to play, we are not piling on to his considerable concerns this offseason. Hopefully, that translates to an appreciative Clarkson who’ll be raring to play for Gilas, once he gets the contract he deserves.
One step back, two steps forward. Sure, our chances of making it to the Olympics got a lot dimmer. But the future of Gilas basketball remains bright if we can do the right thing with Jordan Clarkson.
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