JAKARTA, Indonesia – National coach Yeng Guiao took a long, good look during Jordan Clarkson’s first practice with the Philippine team Thursday afternoon and liked what he saw.
“He’s adapting to the system really quick, he’s very smart,” said Guiao after conducting a 1-hour workout at the Gor Pulo Gadung gym.
Known for his free-flowing, liberal style of coaching, Guiao is fast-tracking everything for Clarkson, with no time wasted as the national team had its second practice Friday.
Clarkson appeared comfortable with the offense the Philippines is running and Guiao believed the Cleveland Cavalier will have no trouble working things out in his debut game against China in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games Tuesday.
“He’s very smart, his basketball IQ is very high so I don’t see JC having problem adjusting to the system. He’s also getting along with his teammates, although he knows some of them already,” added Guiao.
The Filipinos take on the Chinese and their two NBA players, 7-foot-2 Zhou Qi of the Houston Rockets and 6-foot-7 Ding Yanyuhang of the Dalla Mavericks, with an easier path to the quarterfinals on the line.
Clarkson arrived Thursday morning in the Indonesian capital after a long trip from Los Angeles, with a connecting flight from Singapore, and expressed appreciation at how things are coming along with his addition to the national team.
“It was great. A little walkthrough, just do the plays and that was about it,” said Clarkson.
“A lot of dribble-drive, a lot of movement and ball screens, and I feel right into it. It was easy to pick up from there,” added Clarkson, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant before he was dealt to LeBron James’ Cavs team at the trade deadline last season.
Clarkson also understands the expectations, and he is ready to take on the challenge, saying, “Just coming in here and try to fulfill that, coming here as an example, try to win.”
Bonding with his PH teammates, a day after the Nationals routed Kazakhstan, 96-59, also got top priority from Clarkson ahead of the China game.
In his first session with the team, he won the $100 pot for nailing a half-court shot. Yesterday, before practice, he joined his teammates for lunch at the dining area of the Athletes Village.
Clarkson can’t wait to wade into the Asiad waters against the Mainlanders and two of his NBA colleagues.
“I’m just excited,” said Clarkson. “That’s all I can say. I’m just excited to play here and finally be with the team. Just being able to put on a [Philippine] jersey and represent the country, it’s just an exciting moment for me,” he added.
Meantime, Clarkson will be trying out six new Barong Tagalogs to fit his size as he takes the spotlight as the country’s standard-bearer during the opening ceremonies of the continental sports showcase on Saturday at the sprawling Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here.
“Those were only oversize ones left so we shipped them out as fast as we can,” said national team chef de mission Richard Gomez, who arrived on a Philippine Airlines flight here on Friday night together with some Filipino athletes, of the national costume designed by noted couturier Randy Ortiz. “I hope one of those fits Jordan.”
Made out of silk, the Barong sports an embroidered “harimanok ”design and sun on both breasts and will be worn by the over 270-man national contingent.
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