POC: NBA 'broke the hearts of 100 million Filipinos'
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine sports officials expressed disappointment on the NBA's decision to turn down the country's request to allow Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson to play in the 2018 Asian Games.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) secretary general Patrick "Pato" Gregorio said the NBA "broke the hearts of 100 million Filipinos," while fencing chief Richard Gomez, the country's chef de mission to the Asian Games, said the NBA "has no heart."
"We tried our best. Your Philippine sports leaders worked round the clock. So many sleepless nights. We were one clearance away," said Gregorio.
The NBA prevented Clarkson from suiting up for the Philippine men's basketball team, citing an agreement with FIBA that only allows the league's players to suit up for "the Olympics, the FIBA Basketball Wold Cup, Continental Cup competitions, and associated qualifying tournaments." (READ: Jordan Clarkson out for Asian Games)
Gregorio said local sports officials thought the NBA was a "dear friend of the Filipino people."
"Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears. They applied a rule. A rule that will never be understood," Gregorio said in a statement. "You broke the hearts of 100 million Filipinos. We will never forget this."
Clarkson – whose mother Annette Davis and grandmother Marcelina Tullao trace their roots to Pampanga – was one clearance away from joining national coach Yeng Guiao's 12-man lineup.
The Cavaliers guard had gotten the go-signal from the Cleveland team management and the Asian Games committee before the NBA announced its decision on Sunday, August 12.
Other players like Chris Tiu, one of the Rain or Shine core players suiting up for the national squad, also expressed disappointment on the turn of events.
The Nationals, who are set to fly to Jakarta Sunday night, will kick off their Asian Games campaign on Thursday, August 16 against Kazakhstan.
Saddened by the NBA's decision not to allow Clarkson to play w/ us in Asian Games despite a nation's appeal. His presence would have...
Saddened by the NBA's decision not to allow Clarkson to play w/ us in Asian Games despite a nation's appeal. His presence would have...— Chris Tiu (@chris_tiu) August 12, 2018