Clarkson ready to ''feel the love'' again from Gilas fans at World Cup
MIES (Switzerland) - When Jordan Clarkson arrives in Manila to play for the Philippines this summer at the FIBA Basketball World Cup, fans will hang on his every word.
They'll also watch his every move.
It happened already, when he traveled to the country last summer to play for Gilas against Saudi Arabia in the Asian Qualifiers for the World Cup.
Clarkson dazzled spectators at the game, making long three-pointers, including one from half-court, and delivering slick passes.
Clarkson can't wait to go back to Manila and do it again, this time at the World Cup.
"Playing for your country means a lot," he said during an interview conducted by the NBA at the All-Star Weekend.
"Just being able to represent it, go out there and compete ... just to see the love. In Philippines, basketball is like the number one thing."
Clarkson demonstrated his value to coach Chot Reyes in two Asian Qualifiers appearances. He averaged 25 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists as the Philippines fell at Lebanon in Beirut, 85-81, and thumped Saudi Arabia in Manila, 84-46.
IT'S GOING TO BE REALLY LOUD THERE AND EVERYBODY IS GOING TO FEEL THAT LOVE AND SUPPORT
This summer will be different because Gilas will play even more teams at the World Cup, teams from other regions.
"Just being able to have all those teams, countries come," he said. "I'll be in the host city. Hosts in the World Cup. It's going to be an amazing experience, people seeing the country, being able to experience that."
As the second Filipino American to make it in the NBA after Raymond Townsend, who broke into the league in 1978, Clarkson has a rabid following in southeast Asia. Born in America to a Filipino mother, in Tampa, Florida, Clarkson grew up in the United States. He calls San Antonio home. It's his favorite city.
Since playing college basketball at Tulsa, and then Missouri, he's had a successful NBA career. Clarkson has suited up for the Los Angeles Lakers, Cleveland Cavaliers and, since 2019, the Utah Jazz. He is a teammate of another player that will be at the World Cup, Finland's Lauri Markkanen.
Utah have been far more very competitive than many had expected this season and have a shot to make the playoffs.
Clarkson has raised eyebrows, too, averaging almost 21 points - a career high - and more than four assists and four rebounds.
View this post on Instagram
Just knowing that he'll be back in the Philippines gets Clarkson excited.
"Seeing the love people have for basketball there," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if every game is sold out. It's going to be really loud there and everybody is going to feel that love and support when you walk around the city, while playing games."