With Clarkson arrival, Gilas hopes to put together lessons learned from foreign camps

Things are looking up for Gilas Pilipinas now that Jordan Clarkson is ready to join the team in training.  —MARLO CUETO

Things are looking up for Gilas Pilipinas now that Jordan Clarkson is ready to join the team in training. —MARLO CUETO

Chot Reyes and Gilas Pilipinas returned from a tournament in China on Tuesday bearing valuable training lessons and a heightened sense of urgency.

Soon they will be meeting the last crucial piece the team needs to come up with a creditable performance in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup.

“Our margin for error is very small. One miss and you die. We really have to be on point every second,” Reyes told his charges on the heels of a 63-48 win over Iran at Xiaoqing Sport Center on Monday evening.

“We have to be damn near perfect. And even that may not be enough. But for sure, if we do not play our best, we’ll have no chance,” he added.

“So give yourselves a chance. Go out there and play your best [because that’s the] kind of competition that awaits us [in the World Cup]. Teams are going to be playing at a high level.”

If there’s one guy who can raise the quality of Gilas Pilipinas in the basketball showcase the country will cohost starting Aug. 25, it is Jordan Clarkson, who arrived early Tuesday morning aboard Philippine Airlines PR 103, sounding every bit eager to help the National Five.

“I’m just excited to be with the team again,” he told reporters as he was hastily escorted out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 at dawn.“I think we got a good chance to do some things,” he said of the Gilas bid that will begin against the Dominican Republic followed by Angola and then Italy. “Hopefully, we’ll win some games.”


Reyes plans to reintegrate Clarkson back into the program this Wednesday at the earliest, kicking off the final stage of Gilas’ ramp-up to the quadrennial meet that will also serve as a qualifying tournament for the Paris Olympic Games next year.

And the pool that Clarkson will join has picked up its development over the last few weeks, with key players filling in for absent shoo-ins.

AJ Edu’s dynamic play made up for the absence of 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto, while Kiefer Ravena provided a steadying presence as playmaker Scottie Thompson continued to rest his fractured hand. Ray Parks Jr. also came through a time when Gilas is in search of another potent scoring option.

Clarkson is also expected to suit up in the friendlies against Montenegro and Mexico scheduled days before the big dance.

Sotto, who has been strengthening his back after hurting it during the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas last month, is also set to join Gilas in training this week. INQ

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