The two Fil-Am guards’ historic moment was a heartwarming one as well.
Though there have many Filipino basketball legends who excelled in international leagues likeÂ Kai SottoÂ andÂ Kiefer Ravena, it’s rare to see Filipino ballers make a name for themselves in the NBA, and even rarer to see two of them try to outplay each other on the hardcourt.
But during last Thursday’s Western Conference match-up between Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets on the road, that’s exactly what happened to two fellow guards in Jordan Clarkson and Jalen Green, which marked the first time in NBA history that two players with Filipino heritage played the same game together.
To amp up the Filipino fans in attendance, the Rockets dubbed the event at the Toyota Center as Filipino Heritage Night and flaunted t-shirts with Green’s #0 on the seats.
As for the bout, Clarkson, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, finished with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Meanwhile, the second overall 2021 Draft pick in Green posted 13 points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block to bring the Jazz to their fourth straight victory in the NBA’s 75th season, 122-91.
In the post-game interview, Clarkson, despite having been a part of several Filipino Heritage Nights in the past, said his latest one was special because it was a first.
“[Filipinos] love basketball,” said Clarkson. “Just us two being here is super inspirational for the youth and every Filipino-American, every Filipino, anybody with Filipino blood. I feel like it’s just an amazing experience, something that can’t be done again because we [Green and I] were the first to do it.
“Hopefully we see more come to the league.”
Meanwhile, the historic heritage night was Green’s first as it was just his fifth NBA game following the 19-year-old’s phenomenal draft pick over the summer.
In the interview, Clarkson also vouched for Green to play for the Philippine flag, much like what the NBA veteran has done when he balled for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games.
“The next thing we got to work on is get Jalen in those jerseys,” said Clarkson, to which Green replied before laughing: “I don’t want to say too much right now. It’s early, it’s early.”