JORDAN Clarkson is just getting started in his national tour of duty with big plans of returning home next year to reinforce Gilas Pilipinas in its biggest battle, the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
The Philippines will serve as the main host in the 32-team world basketball showpiece next August and the Filipino-American pride Mr. Clarkson is expected to be by the country’s side after his stint in fourth window of the ongoing Asian Qualifiers.
“Yes,” answered the Utah Jazz guard and 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year when asked about the possibility much to the cheers of hundreds of Filipino fans during his visit at the famed Tenement court in Taguig City.
Mr. Clarkson, who traces his roots in Pampanga, said donning the Philippine colors has been a dream come true since he debuted for Gilas in the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
“It’s been great. It’s been something that I’ve envisioned when I first went to Jakarta and watched the team play,” said Utah Jazz’s Clarkson in the event organized by Taguig led by Mayor Lani Cayetano and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
“It’s great seeing Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo, Dwight Ramos and young, talented players being surrounded and trying to put us in a position to make the Olympics and hopefully win the World cup in like 360 days. We got some time to prepare and prepare for all that. Everything that I’ve envisioned and what I’ve been trying to push for is coming to life,” he added.
But more than that, the 6-foot-4 guard is just thrilled and honored to give back to his roots and serve as an inspiration to the Filipino kids also aspiring to make it in the big stage
“This is kind of where it started. We came here the first time I visited here, now I’m just continuing my visits. Every NBA player comes here. They’re not from here — I am, straight up” beamed Mr. Clarkson.
Huge part of that is his family beaming with pride to witness how far he has come and how big he has become since being a kid clad with excitement in wearing a barong back then.
“I know all y’all looking at the bigger picture but a lot of this is for my grandmother. Just trying to carry her name, make her proud and still continue to this day. That’s probably the biggest reason why I still do and represent the flag and country to this day,” he brimmed.
“You being here today is such a big inspiration, and I hope those present not only here in Tenement but also those tuning in online will look at you and your achievements and dream big,” said Mr. Cayetano.
“I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to JC, his family and his team. His presence here today will surely inspire young dreamers and athletes to be the best that they can be,” added Ms. Cayetano.
— John Bryan Ulanday