National coach Chot Reyes feels it is too early to assess Jordan Clarkson’s reunion with the Gilas Pilipinas program.
Clarkson fitting in on the fly with his teammates during a game, however, is another matter.
“I don’t think there will be any problem in terms of integration. It’s easy to learn an offense, it’s easy to pick steps and all that,” he said in a recent TV interview with ONE Sports.
“But the little nuances? The counters and settings and readouts you only get in game time situations? That’s really my major concern right now.”
Clarkson returned to Manila early Tuesday morning and rejoined the program Wednesday night during a closed-door session at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City, kicking off Gilas Pilipinas’ preparations for the World Cup in FIBA (International Basketball Federation) at full speed.
But his involvement has been limited to just shooting, 5-on-0 runs and getting to know the Gilas standouts he missed during his previous tour last year: June Mar Fajardo, Rhenz Abando and AJ Edu.
Reyes said he hopes to address that through the warm-up games leading up to the Aug. 25 event. The Philippines, which is ranked 40th on the FIBA scale, has since scheduled matches against world number 18 Montenegro on August 20, and world number 31 Mexico on August 21, while another friendly is being organized. against Ivory Coast on August 16.
“It’s important that we have three more friendlies, three more warm-up games coming up, so we can work on those little things that are very important in running with (Jordan),” Reyes said.
Whatever adjustments Clarkson must go through will be trivial as far as Reyes is concerned. In fact, he hopes for an even better version of the player who helped Gilas in World Cup qualifiers against Lebanon on the road and Saudi Arabia about a year ago.
“I’ve always believed that NBA players, very good players, are in the NBA for a reason. And one of those reasons is his ability to keep improving and developing his game,” Reyes said.
“I’m sure the Jordan Clarkson we had in the windows is not the same. We are getting the much improved Jordan Clarkson this time, just from having more practice with us,” he continued.
“I think during the windows, we had four, five practices before we played in Lebanon, so just having more practices, I think we’ll see that effect.”
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