by: Mickey Ingles (Photo from JC’s Instagram Page)
As the Gilas Pilipinas basketball team ramps up its preparations for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China this August, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) is undoubtedly working just as hard to get NBA player Jordan Clarkson back in a Pilipinas jersey.
The question most people ask is, “why can’t JC play in the first place? He’s Filipino!”
That’s true, but while he is a dual citizen Filipino under our Constitution and local laws, FIBA still considers him a naturalized player. (Krissy Tiu explains why when she wrote about the entire Sixteen-and-Under rule here, but in a nutshell, FIBA will only consider a dual citizen player local if he or she acquired his or her passport before the age of sixteen.) And under Article 3-21a of the FIBA Internal Regulations, teams can only field one naturalized player. As center Andray Blatche currently occupies the spot as our naturalized player, it seems we won’t see Blatche and Clarkson together on the court anytime soon.
While SBP continues to talk to FIBA about getting JC on the roster, let’s take a look at two possible articles under the FIBA rules that can hopefully allow JC to suit up for Gilas.
First is Article 3-21a itself. Again, it basically says that if you’re a dual citizen and you want to play for the team of your second nationality, you should have acquired your passport before you celebrated your sweet sixteen. According to recent news reports however, JC actually got his Philippine passport when he was 12.This should’ve put JC in the clear, but FIBA remains unconvinced.
The hope lies in the second article: Article 3-21b. Under the rule, the FIBA Secretary General may consider a naturalized player exempted from the Sixteen-and-Under Rule, after taking into account the following criteria:
- The number of years during which the player lived in the country which he wants to represent;
- The number of seasons during which the player has played in domestic competitions in the country which he wants to represent; and
- Any other criteria that establishes a significant link between the player and the country he wants to play for.
Criteria 1 and 2 won’t apply to JC, because he grew up in the United States and has played there all his life. So, it’s up to SBP to go with Number 3 and show this “significant link” between Clarkson and the Philippines. How it’ll go about it is up to them, but it’ll surely help to show proof that JC has identified himself as a Filipino and with the Filipino culture since he was a child.
What are some things that may establish this link? JC speaking Filipino or any local dialect, JC owning property in the country, JC visiting the Philippines multiple times or on a regular basis, or JC possibly cooking or eating Filipino food… which makes me wonder, what is Jordan Clarkson’s go-to Filipino dish?
For those looking for some hope that appealing to Article 3-21b will work, this was actually used for another dual citizen: Ginebra big man Greg Slaughter. Last September 2018, FIBA cleared Slaughter to play as a local, even if he had obtained his passport when he was 17. FIBA considered three important facts in doing so: Slaughter moved to the Philippines shortly after getting his Philippine passport, studied in the University of Visayas before winning two championships for Ateneo (Ateneo OBF!), and has been playing here ever since.
Whether FIBA will be as lenient with Clarkson remains to be seen. But here’s to hoping that FIBA does allow him so we can see the Cleveland Cavalier help the country against Angola, Italy, and Serbia in the World Cup.
Mickey Ingles is Batas Sportiva’s editor-in-chief. For the record, he loves Manam’s watermelon sinigang.