JAKARTA — Al Panlilio has had his share of challenging moments early in his tenure as president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
From the crisis the local governing body in basketball encountered brought about by the free-for-all incident during the game of Gilas Pilipinas and Australia and the consequent suspension of the players and coaches of our national squad, to the initial decision to pull out from the basketball competition in the Asian Games before reconsidering and eventually forming a team formation of the team, the SBP has had it rough of late.
But all these things were overshadowed when Philippine basketball was able to bring in National Basketball Association player Jordan Clarkson in the Asian Games.
Suddenly, Philippine basketball has put itself at the forefront of the regional international competition with Mr. Clarkson serving as the face of the Filipino contingent here and becoming the event’s biggest star.
Mr. Clarkson was the Philippines’ flag-bearer and from the moment he arrived in Indonesia he had drawn international attention.
“I think it’s the first time we’re going to have an active NBA player as part of the Philippine national team. It’s very common for the other countries, but for the Philippines, it’s very rare,” Panlilio told BusinessWorld in an interview.
According to Mr. Panlilio, the SBP moved heaven and earth just to convince the NBA to allow Mr. Clarkson to participate in the Asian Games.
The NBA gave Mr. Clarkson a one-time exemption to compete in the Asian Games as the league only allows its players to join the qualifying tournaments for the World Cup and the Olympics.
“We would like to thank the NBA for allowing Clarkson. Jordan really wanted to carry the Philippine jersey. We were able to meet his fanily and it’s very supportive also. As for the SBP, we’re hoping to bring in Jordan in more competitions,” added Mr. Panlilio.
“We just have to work on his schedules. I know he has commitments in the NBA.”
If available in the future, the SBP could bring in Mr. Clarkson to play either as a naturalized player or as a local and that is something the SBP is working on, according to Mr. Panlilio.
“From a FIBA standpoint, Jordan is considered a naturalized player. The SBP is working, but it might take some time, for FIBA to reconsider because the situation of the Philippines is different. By law, under our Constitution, if you are born or one of your parents is a Filipino, and you were born anywhere else in the world, you are still considered a Filipino at the time of birth,” said Mr. Panlilio.
“In the US, if you’re born in the US, you are a US citizen. What we’re trying to do is discuss with FIBA that they would give consideration to the Philippines, our nature, because there are 10 million Filipinos working abroad and for sure, they will have kids abroad. By blood, their lineage is Filipino. We’re hoping FIBA would adjust their rules and allow certain Filipinos to become real Filipino players, not naturalized.” — Rey Joble