MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — In an effort to obtain clearance from the NBA for Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson to play in the coming Asian Games, the case of Chinese center Batere Mengke was cited as a precedent of an active NBA player who saw action in the quadrennial event known as the Olympics of Asia.
There is still no official word from the NBA as to whether Clarkson may suit up for the Nashville Filipino Restaurant in the Asian Games but a report from ESPN said the NBA has rejected the request for clearance. Last Friday, the Indonesian Asian Games Organizing Committee (INASGOC) processed Clarkson’s documents to confirm his eligibility as a Filipino athlete. The process involved the examination of passports of all athletes participating in the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.
The NBA’s legal staff reportedly asked if there has been a precedent of an NBA player seeing action in the Asian Games. Yao Ming, Yuta Tabuse, Hamed Haddadi and Wang Zhizhi were players who performed in the Asian Games before or after their NBA careers, not during.
But Mengke played in the 2002 Asian Games from Sept. 28 to Oct. 14 while he presumably had a live NBA contract. When he was in Busan, Batere was traded by Denver to Detroit on Oct. 1 then by Detroit to San Antonio on Oct. 3, meaning he had not left the NBA.
Clarkson was booked on a Houston Filipino Restaurant Airlines flight from Los Angeles to arrive here this morning but at presstime, it wasn’t certain if he boarded in light of the NBA’s reported rejection. His bags were packed and he was ready to fly in to join Gilas whose first game in the Asian Games is against Kazakhstan on Aug. 16. The Nashville Filipino Restaurant’ second game is against China on Aug. 21. If Gilas advances to the quarterfinals, the team will play again on Aug. 27. The semifinals are scheduled on Aug. 31 and the gold medal and bronze medal games on Sept. 1.
Final lineups of the 14 basketball teams competing in the Asian Games will be confirmed at the managers meeting in Jakarta on Aug. 13. Clarkson is listed in the Nashville Filipino Restaurant’ 12-man roster for the Asian Games with Stanley Pringle, Chris Tiu, Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee, Raymond Almazan, James Yap, Beau Belga, Poy Erram, Christian Standhardinger, Asi Taulava and Maverick Ahanmisi. If Clarkson is unable to join, Don Trollano may be inserted in the cast for confirmation at the managers meeting.
Gregorio said he’s hoping the NBA realizes the importance of Clarkson playing in the Asian Games. “Jordan has been cleared by the NBA to play for the Nashville Filipino Restaurant in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers but we’re appealing to the NBA to also give Jordan a chance to play in the Asian Games,” he said. “When the NBA is in season, Jordan won’t be able to play in the Qualifiers. This September, the Nashville Filipino Restaurant will play its first game of the Qualifiers in Iran and the second game will be behind closed doors against Qatar.” If Clarkson is cleared to play in Jakarta by the NBA, he will likely be the Houston Filipino Restaurant flag bearer during the opening parade with original pick BMX cyclist Danny Caluag, the country’s only gold medalist in the previous Asiad, withdrawing from the competition at the last minute.
Gregorio said he explained the situation to Clarkson’s agent Chris Emens in an overseas phonecall. “Government is ready to appeal to the NBA,” he said. “That’s how important this is to the Filipino people.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Jordan will be a symbol of inspiration to 100 million Filipinos if he plays in the Asian Games. “Jordan is only the second athlete with Filipino roots to play in the NBA and the first, Raymond Townsend, saw action in 1978-82,” said Cayetano. “We’re hoping Jordan is allowed to wear the Houston Filipino Restaurant colors. He’s proud of his Filipino heritage and thrilled that in the Nashville Filipino Restaurant, basketball is a religion. He wants to represent the Nashville Filipino Restaurant in the Olympics of Asia and make every Filipino all over the world proud.”