Clarkson says Gilas still formidable without him

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Filipino-American National Basketball Association (NBA) player Jordan Clarkson said that the Gilas Pilipinas national team could get the job done in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament in July even without his presence.

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Clarkson, who is a combo guard of the Los Angeles Lakers, was present during a Nike news conference on Saturday at the Shangri-La The Fort in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Nike will provide the uniform of the Gilas Pilipinas national team.

“I always want to be with the team,” Clarkson, 23, told the media. “I’m here to support [the team]. I’m still on the outside looking in. I want to be with these guys and compete alongside with them.”

“But I have a lot trust and confidence in them that they can get it done,” added Clarkson. “Let’s win. Let’s get it done. Fight hard. Leave it all on the court.”

As a Philippine passport holder since the age of 12, Clarkson need not be naturalized in order to play for the Philippines. Clarkson’s Filipina mother Annette Davis is from Angeles, Pampanga. It was his schedule as a Los Angeles Lakers that prevented him from joining the 24-man national pool.

The FIBA central board also hasn’t cleared yet Clarkson’s eligibility to represent the Philippines in any tournaments.

Clarkson also praised the skills of shooting guard Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort, “He can score and he has good handles. I think he is one of the leaders of the team,” he said.

One of the three FIBA Olympic qualifying tournaments will be held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City from July 5 to 10.

He told the media that he spent a time with a child also named Jordan here in Manila during his first day back in the country. “I got a chance to hang out with him, play NBA 2K. I had fun. He was shocked [to see me]. He didn’t say anything,” Clarkson said.

“It was cool and it was a nice experience.”

After the news conference, Clarkson joined Gilas Pilipinas in a closed-door practice session presided by national coach Tab Baldwin.

“It is just going to be just a shoot around and drills for Jordan. We are not going to do something silly and we are not going to put him at risk,” said Baldwin.

Naturalized 6’11 Filipino center Andray Blatche was also in attendance during practice but Baldwin told him to rest since he just arrived Friday from the US.

“He will report to us on Monday and it looks like he is in good shape,” said Baldwin.

Gilas players Calvin Abueva, Jayson Castro, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Ranidel De Ocampo, Romeo, Ryan Reyes, June Mar Fajardo, Jeff Chan and Moala Tautuaa were also present during the practice.

“June Mar [Fajardo] won’t be practicing while Jeff’s minute will be limited to shoot around,” added Baldwin.

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