Kai Sotto will also be suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas.
“We are glad to have Kai into the Gilas fold and thank him for his proactive response to the call to play for flag and country for the August qualifiers,” said Sonny Barrios, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director and spokesperson.
The 7-foot-3 cager, who recently signed a fresh deal with the Adelaide 36ers in Australia after being left out of the NBA Draft, is set to arrive in Manila on Aug. 18.
Meanwhile, another Filipino-American player in the NBA, guard Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets, visited Manila again, this time for the first time as an NBA athlete and adidas Global Ambassador.
Green, 20, was selected second overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2021 NBA Rookie Draft. He went on to average 17.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists per game in his first season with the league
“It is with great pride and excitement that adidas Philippines welcomes another NBA athlete— and most importantly one with Filipino roots— to the country,” said Jen Dacasin, adidas Philippines Brand Activation Manager.
Barrios made the disclosure at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum, saying Clarkson’s status in FIBA-sanctioned events will be as naturalized player.
The SBP has long batted to the international basketball federation for Clarkson to be classified as a local.
“We tried our best. Maraming pagsisikap na makuha ang ating kagustuhan pero gagamitin na natin siyang naturalized. There’s no turning back,” added Barrios.
Even before the 6-foot-5 Clarkson made his debut in 2014 with the Los Angeles Lakers, the SBP has tried to lobby for his inclusion as a local for the national team to the FIBA Central Board.
However, although Clarkson has Filipino blood, he is not considered as a local because of a FIBA rule.
Clarkson will play against Saudi Arabia in the qualifiers – his first in front of Filipino fans and second with the national team following his stint with the Yeng Guiao-mentored squad during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
The said qualifier is part of the national team’s preparation for the 2023 FIBA World Cup the country is co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia.
The Tampa, Florida-born Clarkson will finally make his debut for the Philippines in a FIBA event during the fourth window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers later this month, Barrios said.
The former NBA Sixth Man of the Year will have numerous B. League stars playing alongside him. This includes Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, Thirdy Ravena, and Dwight Ramos. Collegiate aces Carl Tamayo, Kevin Quiambao and Francis Lopez will also be playing The rest of the roster will be rounded out by PBA players.
Barrios said Clarkson has committed to be with the team six weeks before the World Cup. This means he will be training with the national team for two months.
“He is committed for the World Cup to be available at least six weeks before the World Cup,” said Barrios. “’Yung mga locals natin, assuming siya ang ating naturalized for the World Cup, will be together for two months by the time Jordan joins us. But that should not be a problem.”