GILAS Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said it is a shame that Jordan Clarkson won’t be playing for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila on July, urging Fiba to “wake up” and allow basketball players like Clarkson to play for their heritage nation.
Clarkson arrived on Saturday for a Nike promotional tour and expressed his support for Gilas Pilipinas in their campaign for the Fiba OQT where the national squad vies for one of the final three berths for the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
While he is happy to hear Clarkson expressing full support to the Gilas squad, Baldwin said he would have been happier to see the Fil-American guard of the Los Angeles Lakers on the floor for the Philippines.
Only a technicality has prevented Clarkson from playing for Gilas, something that Fiba should address, according to Baldwin.
“It’s always great to have Jordan around. He’s a very engaging guy. I just think he is a great kid but it’s a shame that he is not playing for the Philippines. I think Fiba needs to wake up to the reality that a lot of good basketball players around the world who have citizenship or have rights to citizenship to a lot of countries other than the United States.
“Just because they live there and train there doesn’t mean their heritage doesn’t belong to another country,” said Baldwin.
The Gilas Pilipinas coach, a New Zealander-American, said the Fiba stand is depriving the basketball world of the opportunity to see the best players in the world play international basketball.
“I think the world of basketball is a little bit robbed by the fact that we don’t see this players on their country playing international basketball. However, I do understand the challenge that they have too. There have been too many cases where countries tried to bend the rules or get around the rules. So Fiba has to do something,” said Baldwin.
Baldwin said he feels sorry for Clarkson, who wants to play for the Philippines in international play.
“It’s not just him that wants to play for the country, it’s every single Filipino and the basketball world wants to see these great athletes on the court during international events.
“We have to figure out a better way, I think, to do what we are doing right now,” said Baldwin.