Green cherishes Filipino roots

He may already be one of the celebrated young talents in the National Basketball Association (NBA), but Jalen Green still cherishes his Filipino roots.

The Houston Rockets star, who is in Manila for a brief visit, said in a television interview that he is proud to represent the country in the world’s biggest basketball stage.

In fact, his partnership with Utah Jazz swingman Jordan Clarkson is doing wonders as their steady plays and positive influence to the community have put the Philippines on the world basketball map.

“I always say it every time: Having the Filipino culture on my back, just having the whole Filipino nation on my back, is a great feeling,” said Green, whose mother hails from Ilocos Sur.

“Knowing I’m stepping on the floor for the Filipino fans and everyone who has a dream here, showing that it’s possible, it means a lot to me. I don’t know what to say.”

He said he is proud to serve as the country’s ambassador in the NBA together with Clarkson.

Unfortunately, he will not get the chance to bump into Clarkson in Manila as he is set to leave on Sunday while the Jazz star will be arriving on Thursday to join Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Me and JC (Clarkson) started to really get connected this year. We had a Filipino Heritage Game in Houston and Utah. We got a chance to really get connected with the Philippines, talk about our shares and ask about our backgrounds. It was super cool,” said Green, who averaged 17.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists for the Rockets last season.

This is the first time for Green to visit the country since playing a series of exhibition matches as part of FilAm Sports USA in the National Basketball Training Center National Finals in 2018 and 2019.

During his first two visits, he played with Kai Sotto, who is now looking to become the first full-blooded Filipino in the NBA.

Green said Sotto has to work hard to reach his dream.

“Kai, you’re super talented. You got a game but everyone has a different story so just keep your head down, trust the work and make sure you stay in the gym,” Green said.

“God’s gonna bless you if you stay true to the game so just keep your head down wherever you are. You’re going to get there.”

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