THE Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has been working covertly to get the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA's permission for a possible stint by Fil-American guard Jordan Clarkson with Gilas Pilipinas.
Sources said the SBP have been using back channels to gain the nod of the Lakers on Clarkson's appearance with the Philippine team, long before word leaked out that there is a chance the 6-5 sophomore guard can be declared eligible to play for Gilas by world basketball body Fiba.
At the same time, SBP is trying hard not to antagonize both the Lakers and the NBA on Clarkson, the reason it has been very careful with its statements - using words like 'observe' instead of 'join' - since announcing the Lakers player's return to the country on Sunday.
That also explains why up until Wednesday, or two days since his arrival, the SBP has kept Clarkson scarce to the media.
Clarkson was expected to attend Gilas' practice on Wednesday morning at the Hoops Center but didn't show up. The SBP has made no formal announcement on whether the 23-year-old player, whose mom traces her roots to Angeles City in Pampanga, will show up for a second practice on Wednesday night.
SBP executive director Sonny Barrios has confirmed fresh information that Clarkson has been a Philippine passport holder since age 12, making him eligible to play for Gilas under the Fiba rule requiring players to acquire the citizenship of the country they want to represent before turning 16.
Barrios said copies of Clarkson's passport have been forwarded to Fiba, which in turn asked for supporting documents on the former Missouri guard's eligibility to suit up for the Philippines.
Clarkson's party brought in most of those supporting documents when he arrived on Monday night. Those papers will in turn be submitted by the SBP to Fiba.
However, the SBP also admit efforts to make Clarkson eligible for Gilas will go for naught if he doesn't get the green light to play from both the NBA and the Lakers.
Asked about the matter, Barrios said the SBP has yet to make a formal request to the Lakers organization with regards to Clarkson's eligibility.
"Wala pa," he said.