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Asian Games: Philippines' Clarkson set to make games debut

Filippino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson, right, watches with Philippines' Pauliasi Taulava on the bench as he arrives during a match between the Philippines and Kazakhstan at the men's basketball event at the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Aug. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- Cleveland Cavaliers' scoring guard Jordan Clarkson looks set to finally make his Asian Games debut for the Philippines basketball team on Tuesday.

    After much uncertainty about whether he would receive clearance to play from the United States' professional National Basketball League, Clarkson arrived in Jakarta for the 2018 Asian Games and was quickly thrown into the high-profile role of being his country's flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony.

    "It's a great opportunity to be here to play in the Asian Games. It's an honor and a blessing," the 26-year-old who was born in Florida to a Filipino mother said on Sunday in Jakarta. "At the end of the day, we're here to compete."

    The basketball-crazy Philippines is one of Asia's powerhouses, and the players showed they can get it done even without their star player who spent three seasons playing for the Los Angeles Lakers before being traded to the eventual championship runner-up Cavaliers last season.

    In the Philippines' first game of the tournament, it easily handled Kazakhstan 96-51. Next, it will face a stern test against China, which itself will put two fringe NBA players -- the Houston Rockets' Zhou Qi and Ding Yanyuhang, who was recently inked by the Dallas Mavericks -- on the court.

    Clarkson's chances of competing for the Philippines looked slim when the NBA ruled that the Asian Games was not one of the competitions in which players are given dispensation to compete.

    The NBA's agreement with basketball's governing body stipulates that players can participate in the Olympics, the FIBA World Cup, continental cup competitions and associated qualifying tournaments.

    However, in Clarkson and the Chinese players' cases, the league stated that "due to a lack of clear communication of that agreement between the NBA and the Chinese and Philippines Basketball Federations...the NBA has agreed to provide this one-time exception."

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