The hunt for a naturalized player is not yet over as the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) revealed that it wants to form the strongest team for the FIBA World Cup next year.,SBP executive director Sonny Barrios floated the idea of having National Basketball Association (NBA) star Jordan Clarkson as the naturalized player of Gilas should the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) formally deny their appeal to have him play as a local player in the prestigious event that the country will host from 25 August to 10 September last year.,If ever, it’s going to be Clarkson’s second tour of duty for the national squad.,He first saw action for Gilas when they competed in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.,The Utah Jazz swingman, however, played as a local player in the Asian Games since organizers allow anybody to see action for as long as they hold passports of the countries they wish to represent.,The FIBA, meanwhile, requires players to be passport holders of the countries they wish to represent before turning 16 years old, a provision that will bar Clarkson from suiting up as a local player in the World Cup.,Reports have it that the SBP is still appealing his case to the world-governing body in basketball.,Right now, the country’s naturalized player is Ange Kouame, an agile 6-foot-10 slotman from Ateneo de Manila University.,But Barrios said nothing is cast in stone as the federation already tasked Gilas program director and head coach Chot Reyes and his coaching staff to scout potential talents who will best fit his system.,“That’s also on the table. Jordan Clarkson’s case is on the table,” Barrios said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.,“Having a naturalized player is also on the table and is also on the radar of coach Chot. The issue of which naturalized player, who it is and what kind (of a player) he is.”,After a disastrous performance in the Southeast Asian Games, the SBP is now in dire need of fielding the strongest team in the World Cup with 13 months remaining.,In the past two editions of the World Cup, the country fielded NBA veteran Andray Blatche as naturalized player. He, however, failed to lead the country past pool play.,In recent years, other Philippine Basketball Association imports like Justin Brownlee and Chris McCollough were also considered for the position.,Kouame became the Nationals’ third naturalized player last year and currently part of the Nenad Vucinic’s training pool for the upcoming FIBA World Cup qualifiers in July.,Although the slotman from Ivory Coast is considered as a force in previous FIBA-sanctioned tournaments, Gilas and SBP are still actively looking for other additions to Gilas Pilipinas.,Reyes previously said they even considered former Duke University star Marques Bolden as a potential candidate, but the Indonesian federation already secured his services.,“We were really looking at Bolden as soon as they appointed me last February. But Indonesia got him first,” Reyes said.,“We were looking for a 6-foot-10 young player who has the size and skills to make an impact. That’s why Bolden was one of them.”,Barrios echoed Reyes’ statement, saying that they want an import who can dominate the paint.,“We are not looking for point guards. By the process of elimination, we are leaning on “the bigger, the better” unless we have other options,” Barrios said during the weekly presented by San Miguel Corporation, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila and Unilever.,“Skill is what the team needs. Again, you range that against the materials that you’ve got on the local side.”
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