What can Filipino-American NBA veteran Jordan Clarkson do to help the Philippines in its campaign for a better finish in the on-going Asian Games basketball competition?
How will head coach Yeng Guiao intend to utilize the Cleveland Cavaliers guard to fit him to his team, which, as it is, hasn’t undergone the needed preparations for the job assigned it?
Whether Clarkson will be a scorer, or help in running the offense and defense, a recipient of the team’s big men’s screens for him to get free or just wait for the passes coming from the likes of Stanley Pringle, Pau Lee, Chris Tiu and Maverick Ahanmisi will be known Tuesday in the Filipinos second game in their elimination round group.
The Filipinos are facing no less than many-time champion and nemesis China on Tuesday hoping to enjoy the momentum of their 96-59 drubbing of Kazakhstan in the tournament’s opening day Thursday last week and another win that will send them against a lighter assignment at the start of the quarterfinal round.
Clarkson, whose mother Annette is a Filipina from Angeles, Pampanga, created quiet a stir in the local sporting scene the moment he was named the national team, initially refused approval by the NBA itself only to be allowed to play later, will actually be playing his first tournament wearing a nation’s uniform.
All eyes, therefore, will be on this Fil-Am to see what he can do on the playing court with Filipino pros like James Yap, Beau Belga, fellow Fil-foreign players Gabe Norwood, Christian Standhardinger, et al and help in his mother country’s cause to improve on its lowly seventh place finish the last time around four years ago in Incheon, South Korea.
For sure, the 6-foot-5 Clarkson had already shrugged off jet lag from a long trip from the U.S. to Jakarta with the four day workouts with his new team since setting foot in the Indonesian capital – a very short training stint that, nevertheless, impressed coach Guiao himself and his teammates.
“It was a lot of dribble drive, a lot of movement, ball screens, I’ll fit right into it,” Clarkson said as quoted by media men after his first practice. “It was easy to pick up for me.”
Having teammates who are all familiar with the system, Guiao expressed belief it won’t take the burden off of Clarkson much to suit himself right away.
“Maganda ang ipinakikita sa ensayo. Very intelligent player, Marunong sumunod sa instructions a madaling maka-adopt sa situwasyon,” Guiao told The Mania Times in an interview Sunday. “Madali ring nakasundo ng teammates niya.”
In his four years in the NBA, Jordan has career averages of 13.9 points on 45.6% from the field, and 1.4 triples made at 35.2%. After the trade that sent him to the Cavaliers midseason from the Los Angeles Lakers, Clarkson raised his three-point shooting to 1.6 made per contest on 40.7% from beyond the arc.
Factors that Guiao believes, Clarkson is capable of dishing out in those departments, especially with a guy like Pringle who can create shots for him due to his uncanny speed and ball handling.
“At his 6-5 frame and mobility, Jordan can do more, probably no 100 percent against China, but in future games,” Guiao said. “But we still need him Tuesday and hopefully, whatever small things he can contribute will lead us further in our campaign here.”
Clarkson calls on NBA to free players for global tournaments
Clarkson has called on the NBA to let players compete in more global tournaments to boost the sport’s popularity worldwide, ahead of his first appearance for the Philippines at the Asian Games.
Clarkson, who dashed to Jakarta last week after the US league released him in a last-minute U-turn, said on Sunday he had wanted to play for the Philippines for years but had been repeatedly blocked.
“After being told no so many times, I refused to give up. I kept fighting,” he said. “I’m here now, ready to compete.”
“Just playing in the Games already means a lot me. It’s a great experience for me. Getting a medal would be an amazing achievement.”
Excitement is brewing in the basketball-mad Philippines over Clarkson, who was born in the US but has Philippine citizenship through his grandmother.
The Asian Games are the world’s second-largest multi-sport event, but unlike the Olympics it is not among the competitions NBA players are normally allowed to participate in.
“I think they get the point — in Asia kids are picking up a basketball. I feel like the NBA is allowing us to do our thing.
“I know soccer is still a big sport, but if soccer is up there I feel basketball is right underneath.”
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.