Clarkson ruled out of Olympic qualifier

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DESPITE his willingness to play, Jordan Clarkson will not be in the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will vie in the Olympic qualifier here in July.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan broke this news yesterday as the hoops body formally launched the country’s hosting of the Rio de Janeiro Games qualifier, slated July 5 to 10, at Mall of Asia Arena.

“The arrangement with Jordan is a little bit more complicated,” Pangilinan said during the event’s jam-packed launch at the Conservatory room of Manila Peninsula hotel. “He is an NBA player. Everything has to be done right.”

Pangilinan said Clarkson’s inclusion in the lineup as a Filipino has sparked “a big debate internally [in the SBP] and with Fiba.”

The Fiba is said to have told the SBP to choose between Clarkson, if the SBP opts to naturalize the Los Angeles Lakers guard, and the already naturalized Andre Blatche.

“There are solicited suggestions,” Pangilinan said. “And the safer suggestion is to go for Blatche.”

Pangilinan said he wants to see the Blatche that led the Philippines to an exciting 2014 World Cup campaign in Seville, Spain, and not the overweight Gilas slotman in Changsha, China, last October.

The SBP actually tried but failed to work out Clarkson’s Filipino status with the Fiba in time for the Fiba Asia Championship in Changsha, where the Philippines finished second to host China.