MANILA, Philippines -- TNT center Poy Erram has fond memories of one-time teammate Jordan Clarkson, who played for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Clarkson, the Filipino-American guard of the Utah Jazz, was granted a special exemption by the NBA to suit up for the Philippines in the Asiad, in a massive boost to the country's hopes in the competition.
Despite having Clarkson on board, the Philippines did not make it to the podium, but their fifth place finish was their best since 2002. Clarkson was dominant in the competition, and displayed great chemistry with his teammates with just limited preparation.
Erram, one of the members of the Gilas Pilipinas squad in the Asian Games, recalls that Clarkson was "very humble" despite being one of the superstar athletes in Jakarta.
"Noong si Jordan Clarkson kasama namin sa mismong building, lahat ng athlete sa iba-ibang lugar, naka-tingin talaga sa amin, nagpapa-picture sa kanya. Nagulat kami na, ito pala 'yung feeling pagka-NBA player kasama mo," Erram said during an appearance on "2OT."
"Kakaiba, pero siyempre very humble din si Jordan Clarkson. Napakabait din. Tapos hindi siya 'yung katulad ng iba na humihiwalay," he added.
Despite having grown up in the United States, Clarkson showed that he had "ugaling Pinoy," said Erram.
And he was clearly a cut above the rest in terms of the competition. Clarkson was virtually unguardable, and his teammates -- particularly Fil-German forward Christian Standhardinger -- benefited from his playmaking. In his first win with the team, a 113-80 rout of Japan, Clarkson had 22 points and nine assists.
After having seen what Clarkson can do, Erram hopes he can suit up for the country in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. The Jazz guard will have to play as a naturalized player due to FIBA rules, and Gilas Pilipinas has traditionally gone for centers as their naturalized player to shore up their frontcourt.
Erram believes that with towering players like Kai Sotto and AJ Edu in the pipeline, however, Gilas can thrive with the Fil-Am guard as their naturalized player.
"Noong Asian Games, nakita naman… ibang klase ang laro niya," he said of Clarkson. "'Yung level na nilalaro niya, iba, mas mataas pa po sa Pinoy 'yung nilalaro niya."
"Siyempre, yung mga nakakalaban niya mga NBA player, mga superstars, sila LeBron (James)," he added. "So, makasama siya sa team natin sa Gilas, kasi meron ka nang June Mar (Fajardo), meron ka nang Kai Sotto, meron ka na 'yung si Edu… tapos Jordan Clarkson."
"Makikita mo na 'yung future ng team, if ever makasama siya sa atin, talagang maganda 'yung papakita ng team."
The Philippines will co-host the 2023 FIBA World Cup together with Japan and Indonesia.
Clarkson has yet to play again for the Philippines since the 2018 Asian Games, but he said after the competition that he cherished the experience.
"This experience was one I will never forget," Clarkson said at the time. "I love playing for coach, along with my teammates and brothers, building bonds that will hold strong… Can't wait for the next time I get to put the colors on."
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