Country sees Clarkson for first time in Gilas vs Saudi
Jordan Clarkson was in a giving mood on the eve of a much-anticipated Gilas Pilipinas home game where he will be the biggest draw.
The Filipino-American guard, who again heeded the call of his mother’s birthplace for two key Fiba games this month, said he is committing to the national cage program when it battles the best on the planet in the World Cup here next year.
“Uhh, yeah,” the NBA’s former Sixth Man of the Year said Sunday morning at the Tenement in Taguig when asked about his commitment to Gilas for the global showcase a year from now.
Clarkson, a 6-foot-6 guard who has blossomed into a full-fledged NBA star with the Utah Jazz, said the foremost driver of his representation of the Philippines stems from his love for his family, especially his grandmother Marcelina Tullao Kingsolver, who hails from Bacolor town in Pampanga province.“[Me] just trying to carry her name, making her proud still continues to this day,” he said. “That’s a reason why I still do this and still come [here] and represent.”
Clarkson led a crew of international campaigners and local standouts in a narrow loss to Asia’s rising powerhouse Lebanon in Beirut last Friday. Four years prior to that, he backstopped a pro-laden bunch in the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
This Monday night, before a sold-out crowd, he plays his first Gilas Pilipinas game on home soil as the Philippines hosts Saudi Arabia at 7 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City. “[This has] been great,” Clarkson said. “It’s been something that I’ve envisioned when I first came to Jakarta and watch the (National Team) play. [It’s great to see] what I’ve been pushing for is coming to life.”
Clarkson is also thrilled to see a crew around him teeming with promise—something he feels should augur well for the national cage program.
“Seeing Kai Sotto, Carl (Tamayo), young guys like that. Dwight (Ramos), you know—just talented players [that I’m being] surrounded [with]. [It’s] 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 for all that. Everything I’ve envisioned and what I’ve been trying to push for is coming to life,” he added.
Gilas Pilipinas is projected to cruise past the Saudis, but the latter are looking far from being pushovers.
Saudi Arabia has played seven matches in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers and has racked up 490 total points for seventh spot in the 15-nation field.
The 3-4 visitors are also shaping up as a puzzle on defense after averaging 4.7 blocks in the tournament.
No less than Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said that Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Even though they’re ranked lower than us, you cannot count them out,” he said in an earlier interview. “All teams are getting stronger, so we just have to make sure we play on Monday.”
Gilas practiced one more time on Sunday and is expected to make some personnel tweaks as Tamayo flew to South Korea to fulfill an earlier commitment with his college team, the UP Fighting Maroons.
Roosevelt Adams, which was part of the preliminary pool that flew to Beirut and was the eventual final cut before the game against the Cedars, is looking like a logical choice for the roster against Saudi Arabia. INQ
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