Even with him not being able to play for the Gilas Pilipinas national team, Fil-Am Los Angeles Laker Jordan Clarkson was still enthusiastic in showing support for the squad that will compete in the FIBA Olympic Qualifier from July 5-10 here in Manila.
“Let’s win.” Clarkson said in a Nike event at the Shangri-La hotel in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
With his plans to play for the Philippine National Team falling short after scheduling issues with his NBA club Lakers prevented him from joining Gilas preparations, Clarkson still was not short in expressing his belief with the squad.
“I’m here to support, 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,” the 23-year old combo guard said.
“It’s not just him that wants to play for the country– it’s every single Filipino.” said Gilas Head Coach Tab Baldwin. “The basketball world wants to see these great athletes on the court during international events.” he added.
After the event, where Nike unveiled the new Gilas Pilipinas uniforms to be used in the Olympic qualifiers, Clarkson joined practice to be a replacement as injuries to several players left the squad with a shortage of bodies– a gesture not only Clarkson is doing as several local players have also expressed to help out in Gilas preparations.
“Honestly, it’s motivating when I talk to players (wanting to help out in practices)” Baldwin said.
“I talked to Stanley Pringle today and Stan said: ‘Coach if you need a hand, if you’re short on bodies, call me.'” Baldwin said. “I spoke to Raymond (Almazan) this morning and he’s excited (about joining practice). He just wants to help.” Baldwin added.
“When people say that to me, honestly, I get goosebumps– I really do because I think we should all feel that way about our national team and appreciate those guys so much.”
“Until we get Junemar (Fajardo) out there and Dray (Blatche) at full speed we’re really light on numbers. This is gonna help us alot.” said Baldwin about his big men as Fajardo is still nursing a knee injury he suffered in the recently concluded PBA Commissioner’s Cup while Blatche has only joined the practice once.
In Clarkson’s case, Baldwin said that the Lakers guard would only be limited to drills: “He’s going to do some drills with us but he won’t do anything live. There’s no way we’re taking a risk for him something happening.”
Even with the limited actions on the court, however, Clarkson’s support never wavered. With Gilas teammates also in attendance at the Nike event, when asked about what message he would give the Philippine National Team, Clarkson looked at Gilas Pilipinas and said:
“Let’s get it done. Fight hard. Leave it all on the court.”