Philippines claims Jordan Clarkson as natural-born player

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The Philippines made Andray Blatche a citizen so he could play for the country’s basketball team

The nation says it won’t have to go to such trouble for Jordan Clarkson, who was born in Florida to a Filipino mother.

Naveen Ganglani of Rappler:

The state of the Philippine national basketball team took an unexpected turn on Monday, August 24, when it was revealed that Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson actually acquired a Philippine passport before turning 16-years-old, making him eligible to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Director Sonny Barrios told Rappler on Monday in a phone call that reports of Clarkson’s eligibility to play as a “natural born” Filipino player were true.

“He’s submitted his documents,” Barrios said. “It has been submitted to FIBA, who’s asking for supporting documents. As we speak, those are being submitted to them.”

“It’s a process that we have to request and honor,” said Barrios, who is still unsure if Clarkson will get to suit up for Gilas in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship as they await FIBA approval. “We have to be patient, and we go by FIBA’s process.”

We’ll see what FIBA says, but Clarkson could be huge for the Philippines. They placed second in 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. A victory in this year’s edition would secure a trip to the 2016 Olympics. Finishing second through fourth would at least send the team to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Basketball has become immensely popular in the Philippines. Stars like LeBron James market themselves there, and Kobe Bryant is revered there.

If Clarkson leads the country to the Olympics, he’ll gain ground on his Lakers teammate. The country is starving for a homegrown star.