Manila: Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson will suit up for the Philippines at the Asian Games in Indonesia, the country’s basketball federation announced on Wednesday, just days after the NBA said it would not release him for the event.
The National Basketball Association granted a “one-time exception” for the 26-year-old Clarkson and two Chinese players — Houston Rockets centre Zhou Qi and Dallas Mavericks forward Ding Yanyuhang — to represent their countries at the 2018 Asiad.
Born in the United States, Clarkson is eligible to play for the Philippines as it is his maternal grandmother’s country of origin.
“This action of the NBA will no doubt cheer the hearts of Filipinos here and all over the world,” the Philippines’ national basketball federation said in a statement.
The US league had earlier refused Clarkson permission to play in tournament, being held in Indonesia from August 18 to September 2.
The Asian Games are the world’s largest multi-sport event after the Olympics, but are not among the competitions NBA players are allowed to participate in under an agreement between the league and FIBA, basketball’s world governing body.
“My heart is full of gratitude for everyone who helped make this happen. See you all very soon!” Clarkson wrote on Facebook, and posted a photo of himself in a Philippines shirt.
A purported NBA announcement confirming the decision was posted on the website of its local broadcast partner, but could not be independently verified. The league’s representatives in Manila could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Clarkson joined the NBA in 2014 and has a career average of 14.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists, most of them during a spell at the Los Angeles Lakers.
He played two games off the bench in the 2018 NBA finals against eventual champions Golden State Warriors.
The Philippines had originally withdrawn from the Asian Games men’s basketball tournament after 10 of their first-team players and two coaches were hit with suspensions and fines after an on-court brawl with Australia at a World Cup qualifier last month.
The decision was later reversed after an intervention by the office of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Winners of four Asiad basketball golds — but none after 1962 — the Philippines are in a tough group this year, which includes favourites China.