Clarkson: Philippines has ‘really good chance’ at Olympic Qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson believes that the Philippines has a “really good chance” to perform well at the FIBA Olympic Qualifiers that will take place in July in Manila, where the winner of the 6-team tournament will earn a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Even if the 23-year-old Clarkson won’t be able to suit up, he said on Saturday, May 28, that “All we got to do is go out there, fight, and compete. It’s not boxing. You ain’t getting hit in the face, so you go out there and you compete, leave it all on the floor and anything can happen.

“Basketball is that way, like when we (the Lakers) beat Golden State this year and stuff like that.”

Clarkson, who’s a restricted free agent this offseason, won’t be able to play for Gilas with free agency (opening on July 1) taking place simultaneously as the Olympic Qualifiers.

However, the former second round pick says he will provide as much support as he can away from the court.

“A lot of those guys (Gilas) have my number and if they want to ask about a guy, anything, they could text me,” he said.

“I’ll be there for them as much as I can. You know I want to be there on the court, fighting with them, but it kinda sucks what happened and I can’t be there. But I’ll be there for them any way I can.”

Clarkson is in the Philippines for Nike which unveiled the new vapor Gilas Pilipinas jerseys at the Kerry Gym in the Shanrgi-La at the Fort on Saturday.

During a 10-minute media session, he also complimented the play of Gilas guard Terrence Romeo, who left him impressed when he watched the national team play at the William Jones Cup in Taiwan last year.

“He can score the ball, can put the ball on the ground. He’s got a great handle, so I’m looking forward to him playing in this qualifier and I feel like he’s one of the leaders on his team so it’s going to be good to see what he does,” said Clarkson.

One of Romeo’s top qualities is his speed, which is something the NBA player believes the team will need to use against bigger opponents (France, Senegal, Canada, New Zealand, Turkey) in the OQT.

“I think you kinda play like that especially with bigger teams that we’ll be facing… I feel like that’s our advantage. We got a lot of quick guards. Guys that can put it on the floor, get to the rim and score, so I feel like that’s the way to go,” said Clarkson.

About eventually getting to wear the Gilas jersey, the former University of Missouri standout said that “I think it’s going to feel great, probably one of the best feelings I would have in basketball. Just being able to represent the country, I’m just looking forward to that, whenever it happens.”

Clarkson is expected to be in Manila until Monday, May 30. –