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Big guns on board as Jordan Clarkson, Kai Sotto join Gilas Pilipinas practice

MANILA, Philippines, August 10 ------ The final pieces are falling into place for Gilas Pilipinas. Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto finally trained with the national team as it held a closed-door practice at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig a day after it arrived from its China trip.

In an Instagram story posted by head coach Chot Reyes, Clarkson and Sotto were seen running up and down the court taking shots with the rest of the squad. Clarkson arrived in the country from the United States on Tuesday after failing to join Gilas Pilipinas in China for the Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament due to visa issues.

Sotto, meanwhile, did not make the China sortie and stayed in the Philippines to recuperate from back problems that have bothered him since his NBA Summer League stint with the Orlando Magic in the middle of July. But even without Clarkson and Sotto, the Philippines showed promise in the three-team pocket tournament that featured Iran and Senegal, finishing with a 3-1 record. Still, Clarkson and Sotto are expected to play crucial roles in the World Cup, where the Filipinos are bunched in Group A with world No. 10 Italy, No. 23 Dominican Republic, and No. 41 Angola.

Clarkson lived up to his billing as an NBA veteran in his two FIBA appearances for the Philippines, averaging 25 points, 6.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in the Asian Qualifiers last year. The 7-foot-3 Sotto also showed out in the Asian Qualifiers with norms of 13.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks in four games.

Others who attended on Wednesday were Dwight Ramos, June Mar Fajardo, Ray Parks, Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena, CJ Perez, Roger Pogoy, Rhenz Abando, Calvin Oftana, AJ Edu, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Newsome, and Jamie Malonzo. Gilas Pilipinas is still waiting on star guard Scottie Thompson, who has been sidelined by a fractured hand.

With Clarkson and Sotto on board, the Philippines has over two weeks to fine-tune its preparations before it tangles with Dominican Republic for its World Cup opener on August 25 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.


Editor's note:

Big man Poy Erram has been ruled out of Gilas Pilipinas’ coming campaign in the Fiba Basketball World Cup. A hurting knee that could be up for procedure keeps the gangling 6-foot-8 Erram from joining the national squad for the Aug. 25 to Sept. 10 quadrennial joust, a team insider shared to As it is, the TNT center already missed several practice sessions in the past and skipped the mini pocket tournament which Gilas joined in Guandong, China just recently.

It also meant Erram could miss out a part of the Tropang Giga’s campaign in the season-opening PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Erram, 34, joined Gilas during its three-week training camp in Europe where it played friendy games against teams from Estonia, Finland, and Lithuania. Upon the team’s return to Manila, Erram would still attend diligently Gilas’ practices, but mostly sat on the sidelines and didn’t join the team in its scrimmages.

While head coach Chot Reyes remains optimistic that Thompson will eventually be cleared to rejoin the team’s training for the 2023 FIBA World Cup later this month, he said that the squad is also looking at its other options moving forward.


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