Jordan Clarkson: Helping Gilas achieve Rio dream would be an ‘awesome experience’.Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson of the Los Angeles Lakers expressed his desire to suit up for the Philippine national men’s basketball team in the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament, saying that it would be an “awesome experience” to help Gilas Pilipinas in their mission to nab an elusive spot in the Rio Olympics.
In an interview with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, Clarkson reiterated his desire to represent the Philippines in international competitions and now hopes that he can finally do it at the Olympic qualifier to be played in Manila in July.
“We’re working on it right now actually,” Clarkson said. “We have to go through some stuff with FIBA, so we’re trying to make sure that happens. So hopefully the timing is right, and I get a chance to do that.
“I definitely want to compete, I want to try to get the guys to Rio. That would be awesome to experience.”
Clarkson arrived in the country last year and began fixing the needed documentation for him to be able to play for Gilas Pilipinas. He is apparently a Philippine passport holder before he turned 16, satisfying the eligibility requirement by FIBA.
But Clarkson didn’t make the Gilas Pilipinas roster in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship due to time constraints and his commitment to the Lakers.
Unlike last year, there’s a huge chance that he could be given green light to join Gilas Pilipinas in the Olympic qualifier as the Lakers aren’t expected to make the NBA playoffs. That would allow Clarkson to have more time with the national team.
Having Clarkson and also naturalized player Andray Blatche on board would definitely be a huge boost for Gilas Pilipinas which will be facing seasoned teams, most of them with NBA talent, in the Olympic qualifiers.
The NBA All-Rookie Team member said the Filipinos’ love for the game is one of the major reasons that motivates him to play for the Philippines.
“They have so much passion and love for the game, and you know, I did a couple of camps over there and kids were showing up with like, no shoes and stuff, playing on concrete in sandals,” he said.
“So there’s definitely a love over there for the game and I want to continue to keep going over there and trying to represent, and do great things for the country as well as the people.”