SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz hosted their first-ever Filipino Heritage Night on Wednesday, drawing Filipinos from in and outside the state of Utah to Vivant Arena in downtown Salt Lake City.
"I am from Las Piñas, Philippines," longtime Jazz fan John Paul Barrientos said. "I just visited here for this game actually. I traveled 17 hours and drove for 10 hours just to be here."
They came to celebrate Filipino culture and see in person two of their favorite players: the Houston Rockets' Jalen Green and the Utah Jazz's Jordan Clarkson.
The showdown between Clarkson and Green was a repeat of their history-making matchup from earlier this season when the two players became the first Filipino Americans to share the court during an NBA game in Houston.
"And they're proud to represent their country," Jazz fan Jiro Maroket said. "Like Jordan Clarkson a few years ago represented the Philippines through Gilas Pilipinas. So I'm hella proud that someone in the NBA can do that."
To help celebrate the event, Filipino Utahn Joseph Buenaflor sang the national anthem, Filipino community leaders promoted their local organizations, and the Gracie Lou Cultural Dance Group put on a halftime show featuring traditional dances from the Philippines.
Fans also posed together in front of a commemorative backdrop featuring the Philippine sun and wore limited-edition T-shirts with the Tagalog word "Pamayanan” that means “Community”.
"We're excited to be here, to represent," Jazz fan Junell Hernando said, "and we're proud of our heritage, and we're grateful to be here."
By the end of the game, Clarkson collected 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, but it was Green's Rockets who rallied for a 116-111 victory.
Clarkson and Green are scheduled to face each other two more times this season, first on Feb. 14 in Salt Lake City and again on March 2 in Houston.