Chot Reyes believes Jordan Clarkson will find it easy meshing with Gilas

Jordan Clarkson far from satisfied in his debut in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Jordan Clarkson will be joining Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. — FIBA.COM

Chot Reyes is now banking on Jordan Clarkson’s immense basketball IQ and familiarity with his system to come up to speed with the Nationals in time for the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup that gets off the ground in just over three weeks.

“Jordan knows what we’re doing. It’s not like he’s coming in blind or coming in for the first time. He’s an NBA player, a professional,” Reyes said after he broke the news, prior to the Nationals’ departure for China to play in a pocket tournament Tuesday morning. “Yes, there will be a lot of adjustment that needs to be done.”

Initial reports said that Clarkson was supposed to join the team in Heyuan City in Guangdong, China on August 6, just in time for him to turn two games in with the Nationals.

“We thought he’s arriving Aug. 6, but it turns out he’s leaving (Los Angeles) Aug. 6, so he should be arriving Aug. 8,” Reyes explained. “He won’t play in China.”

Clarkson has had several stints as a Gilas member, the last two under Reyes and this gives the outspoken coach the confidence that the NBA star won’t have any trouble immersing himself even with the program preparing practically for the last six months.

“[There’s] a lot of familiarity [he needs to cover], but he’s not coming in blind.”

Clarkson will join the team in Manila, instead and his absence means that Gilas will not be playing with a naturalized player as it battles Iran and Senegal.

Making up the Gilas roster are June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Rhenz Abando, AJ Edu, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Poy Erram, Calvin Oftana, Kiefer Ravena, Roger Pogoy and Chris Newsome.

Other absentees

Kai Sotto has also not joined the trip as his standoff with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas continues. The 7-foot-3 center has reportedly asked for time to rest his aching back.

With Clarkson initially thought to be available in China, Gilas had left Justin Brownlee and Ange Kouame behind.

Meanwhile, a healthy mix of battle-hardened veterans and promising prospects make up the Philippines’ final roster for the revived William Jones Cup for women that gets going this weekend.

Program fixtures Jack Danielle Animam, Afril Bernardino and Janine Pontejos banner the squad that will be backstopped by a handful of newcomers in big Filipino-American guard Malia Bambrick and Ateneo bruiser Kacey dela Rosa.

“Now that we are complete, we will try to take advantage of our youth and size with Jack, Kacey and Malia [in tow],” national coach Pat Aquino told the Inquirer on Tuesday, shortly after the squad’s training at Aero Sports Center in Quezon City.

Also making the cut are Jhaz Joson and Louna Ozar, two fresh faces who saw action during the Women’s Asia Cup in Australia last month.

Andrea Tongco, Monique del Carmen, Stef Berberabe and program returnees Gabi Bade and Sofia Roman round out the cast that Aquino says is pretty much a trial roster for the Asian Games that will be held in Hangzhou, China, this September.

Their tournament starts Saturday in Chinese Taipei.

“The Asian Games is really our target. It will be our first so we are super excited to join,” Aquino said of the regional meet, which is shaping up as another milestone for the women’s program that has been making strides this year. INQ

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