THE fiery mentor that he is, Yeng Guiao said the Philippine men’s basketball team just needs to roll with the punches following the NBA’s decision not to let Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson come on board for the 18th Asian Games.
Guiao was told of the bad news just seconds after the team had a walk-through for its final practice at the Meralco gym on a rainy Sunday morning prior to their departure to Jakarta, Indonesia later at 9 p.m.
Like the rest in this entire basketball-loving country, Guiao expressed disappointment of not having Clarkson around, but said the team has to move forward from here and face the bigger battle ahead.
“He’s not been cleared by the NBA and so we prepare without Jordan Clarkson which we have been doing since the beginning, anyway,” said the national coach.
“But we just got excited and we expected that he could play. So there’s a little bit of disappointment,” added Guiao. “Pero nakahanda naman kami. We’ll still be playing as hard as we can with or without Jordan Clarkson.”
With the 6-foot-5 Fil-Am guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers officially out of the national team roster, Guiao said the next move is to proceed to plan B, which means bringing along with them 12th man Don Trollano to Indonesia.
A manager’s meeting will be held on Monday upon which the name of Trollano is going to be presented before the Indonesia Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) as a last-minute replacement for the 26-year-old Clarkson.
“I hope the organizers approve his name. Ganun lang kasimple,” said Guiao of the TnT Katropa guard. “Whether he’s approved or not, he will join the team na.”
The Filipinos then plunge into action the next day (Tuesday) against Kazakhstan.
Of course, Clarkson’s inclusion would've have made a big difference, according to Guiao.
“But it would have been a lot of help if Jordan Clarkson played for the Philippines, a lot of Filipinos would have been happy,” he pointed out. “So sayang. Pero there’s always a next time for the Philippine team.”
“We felt sad he (Clarkson) he will not be with us, pero andiyan naman si ‘Don Clarkson,’” he ended with a smile.