Shooting guard Jordan Clarkson of Los Angeles Lakers is proud of his Filipino roots, representing the country in the National Basketball Association (NBA).
“It is such a great honor to be a Filipino in the big league (NBA). I’m just going to do my best and work hard,” Clarkson said during the NBA playoff between the Houston Rockets and Golden States Warriors viewing party at the NBA Café at SM Aura in Taguig City.
Clarkson’s mother Annette was born in Pampanga. He averaged 11.9 points along with 3.6 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game this season with the Lakers.
“I’m very thankful for your all- out support. Filipinos love basketball. They have a big passion and love for the game. I will make my countrymen proud. I will return here in the Philippines. Everything is awesome,” he said.
However, due to the new International Basketball Federation (FIBA) ruling, Clarkson is not allowed to play for Gilas Pilipinas since FIBA requires all players to declare what citizenship they represent before turning 16-year-old.
The other way for Clarkson to play for team Philippines is to get naturalized. So far, there are two naturalized players in Gilas Pilipinas lineup. They are American 6-foot-11 Marcus Douthit and 6-foot-10 Andray Blatche.
Clarkson did not speak much about a possible stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the future, but if ever opportunity comes he would take a serious look at it.
This year’s NBA All-Rookie First team member also had a sort of advise to Filipino 17-year-old sensation Kobe Paras who currently plays and studies for the University of California Los Angeles. “Work hard. Practice everyday and improve your game. You just got to be ready, your mind, body.”
Clarkson also praised veteran NBA players Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash for helping him polished his game during practices.
“Everyday is a learning process with them,” he said. “They talk with us a lot, correcting our mistakes.”