Clarkson: I’ll be back

Jordan Clarkson’s mission for the Philippines is far from over.

Clarkson formally confirmed that he will be back to help Gilas Pilipinas come up with a strong performance in the FIBA Basketball World Cup next year and advance to the Paris Olympics in 2024.

The Utah Jazz swingman is in Manila to power the Filipinos in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Although he posted impressive numbers of 27 points and seven assists, Gilas still came up short as Wael Arakji delivered in the clutch to lift Lebanon to an 85-81 victory early Friday in Beirut.

With that, Clarkson and the Filipinos are in a must-win situation as they battle Saudi Arabia on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

But yesterday, in front of around 50 kids at the Fort Bonifacio Tenement in Taguig City, Clarkson confirmed that he will be back to put the Philippines — the native country of his maternal grandmother — to the world basketball map.

“Yes,” Clarkson said when asked if he is willing to come back for the FIBA World Cup.

Clarkson added that Gilas Pilipinas has all the tools to make it to the world stage.

Aside from Philippine Basketball Association stars like Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson, Gilas also have young players like Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo and Dwight Ramos, giving Clarkson enough motivation to believe that making their presence felt in the world stage is very possible.

“Seeing Kai Sotto and Carl; you know, young guys like Dwight. (They) are just talented players being surrounded in a position to get into the Olympics and the World Cup,” Clarkson said drawing cheers from the young cagers at Tenement, the iconic court that hosted other National Basketball Association greats like the late Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Aside from gracing a basketball clinic, Clarkson also donated 50 pairs of shoes, 50 shirts and 50 basketballs to the kids in the community, most of them are less fortunate with nothing to lean on but their dream of seeing Gilas compete against the best teams in the world.

Clarkson said they should not stop dreaming.

“We have 360 days before the World Cup so we have to prepare and get ready for all of that,” he said.

“Everything I envisioned, what we have been trying to push for, hopefully comes into life.”

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