New-look Gilas Pilipinas shaping up




The Manila Times


NBA star Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto on board Gilas Pilipinas is probably the much-needed good news local basketball fans want to hear as a step towards shaping up the team’s roster for the coming FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier. It is also a sneak preview of what we can expect for next year’s hosting of the World Cup, where all stakeholders of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas had to throw in their full support in putting up not just the best assembled team in the biggest basketball event, but also in showcasing the country’s world-class hosting skills. Clarkson is reportedly due next week while Sotto will be here soon, too. They will join the Gilas Pilipinas squad in the coming August window of the World Cup in Beirut when the Philippines takes on Lebanon on August 26 and will play again on August 29 at home, this time, against Saudi Arabia. “Sotto arrives on the 18th and Clarkson will be on the 19th,” wrote SBP executive director Renauld “Sonny” Barrios in a Viber message to The Manila Times. The NBA star playing for the Utah Jazz will be seeing action for our national men’s basketball team for the first time since he suited up for the Philippine squad in the 2018 Asian Games then coached by Joseller “Yeng” Guiao. For Gilas coach Chot Reyes, it’s an opportunity to immerse Clarkson from the system of the team while playing alongside some of the players who might be included in the World Cup team next year. Of course, Clarkson is expected to be reserved a slot next year as our naturalized player along with Sotto, the 7-foot-3 center playing for the Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League Australia. Since he didn’t pass as a local player as per FIBA, Clarkson is now the logical naturalized player with Sotto manning the middle. In the coming window of the World Cup Asian Qualifier, Clarkson and Sotto will get to know playing alongside brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, Dwight Ramos and Ray Parks, all of them becoming the rising stars in the Japan B.League, UAAP players LeBron Lopez, Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao. The rest of the members of the squad for the coming fourth window will be named anytime soon and we expect PBA players, particularly those who are not playing in the ongoing PBA Philippine Cup Final Four, to be named to the squad. Among those names being eyed were Calvin Oftana of NLEX and Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra. “I think we’ll catch a glimpse of what the line up will look like and that should hopefully give people an idea of what we’re working on,” wrote Reyes in a text message. With Clarkson and Sotto on board and several PBA players joining the nucleus of young national team aspirants, the Gilas team that will be playing in the fourth window is going to be a lot more formidable. The Philippines is already assured of a spot in the World Cup, but you could see the intention of Gilas Pilipinas in putting up a more stacked roster for the coming window and give Pinoy fans something to cheer about. Clarkson from the NBA, Sotto from the NBL Australia and the rest of the Filipino players playing in the Japan B.League had committed to play and gave more importance to nationalism and patriotism — for flag and country. The PBA is doing the same and even when it’s still one year before the World Cup, it is opening its doors to make its players available, particularly those who don’t have conflict in the ongoing PBA calendar. Para Sa Bayan. That’s been the battle cry for years.