As Gilas Pilipinas closed their campaign in the 2018 Asian Games, Jordan Clarkson was front and center.
For the first time in their campaign in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team played in the enormous Gelora Bung Karno Basketball Hall. While the 6-foot-5 Filipino-American took center court, the rest of the squad surrounded him. The Filipino contingent who trooped to the venue stood side-by-side.
All for Clarkson.
“It’s an honor representing my country in the Asian Games,” said Clarkson.
“This is an unforgettable experience for me.”
Back in 2011, there were talks that Clarkson should be part of the Gilas pool. But in every tournament that saw his name come up, it would always end up in heartbreak. His eligibility was always questioned, even if Clarkson declared that he has held a Philippine passport since he was 12 years old.
Fast forward to 2018, the dream became a reality. The hastily-formed Gilas squad was able to secure the now-26-year-old guard for the Asian Games.
And he delivered.
Every Gilas game was an experience in itself. The venue was packed, photographers lined up the baseline, and foreign press crowded the box just to see every moment.
For his part, Clarkson was spectacular, posting norms of 26.0 points on 46 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent from downtown, to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Gilas ended up in fifth place –two rungs higher than the finish of the 2014 team, but still two notches lower than the podium.
After Friday night, Gilas was left with questions – the most prevailing was when the Philippines see Clarkson again.
“We want him to return and play for us again as a member of our national team.
“But there are some things to be considered, like schedules and the NBA,” lamented Guiao.
Clarkson, who was born in Tampa, Florida and resides in Los Angeles, California, used this experience as his own personal immersion. For two weeks, he was able to learn the culture of his grandmother and his mother.
And he wants to learn more about it.
“This experience was one I will never forget. So blessed to play for the country and represent the flag and the people!
“I loved playing for coach [Yeng Guiap], along with my teammates and brothers, building bonds that will hold strong. Thanks for the opportunity and the support!” Clarkson expressed.
Clarkson believes that this is not the end – it’s only the beginning.
“More to come! Can’t wait for the next time I get to put the colors on,” he added.
“Laban Pilipinas! Puso!”
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