With his second NBA season fast approaching, Jordan Clarkson has been mulling over an opportunity to play for the Philippines National Team – Clarkson’s mother is half-Filipino – in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship that begins later in September. However, the tournament extends into the start of Lakers’ training camp, which all NBA players under contract are required to attend. Lakers spokesman John Black told us that the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement gives players the right participate in international play if there is no injury issue. In theory, Clarkson could join the Philippines squad and play in its early-round games (Sept. 23 vs. Palestine, Sept. 24 vs. Hong Kong and Sept. 25 vs. Kuwait), but the Lakers fly to Hawaii to commence training camp just three days later. As such, Clarkson would not be able to participate in FIBA Asia’s knockout round, which begins Oct. 1.
Clarkson will likely be in communication with Lakers management before coming to a decision about whether he’ll play, or whether it’s too difficult considering the proximity to the start of camp.
Given what Ray had been through, just making it to summer league was a remarkable feat — something no other Philippine-born player has done.1 But “first Filipino to play in NBA summer league” is a backhanded compliment of a career achievement, and Ray, driven by the memory of his father and the support of millions of Filipinos, said he’s aiming even higher: “It’s something that I really, really want — to make it to the NBA. It started off as just me and my dad with a dream. Now it’s the whole country behind me.”
“Every day he’s getting better,” Altamirano said. “He’s more relaxed, he’s more assertive. I think, down the line, you can see that he can play in the NBA.” And for now, that remains Ray’s plan. He kept his name out of this year’s PBA draft, which means he’ll hope for an invite to an NBA training camp, and if he can’t make a team outright, then he’ll look to gain further seasoning in the D-League or in Europe. Because he showed the ability to compete with world-class talent at the high school level, there’s reason to hope that Ray’s game might blossom as he acclimates to elite professional basketball.
It was an impossible decision. When Parks Sr. had moved back to Memphis in 2005 and eventually had Ray join him, it was with his son’s basketball future in mind. “The dream was always for Ray Ray to play in the U.S. NCAA and eventually the NBA,” said Ronnie Magsanoc, Parks Sr.’s friend and former PBA teammate. Relocating to Manila would limit Ray’s exposure to other athletes with NBA-caliber size and athleticism, and perhaps make it impossible for Ray to return to elite U.S. basketball. At the same time, Parks Sr. had a family to support, and the opportunity in the Philippines would allow him to do that. Not to mention that forging close ties with the Sy family could benefit his family for decades to come.
It was the beginning of a 12-year career in the Philippines for Parks Sr., who transferred to Shell Rimula-X (owned by the gas company) and became the team’s regular import, teaming with locals Ronnie Magsanoc and Benjie Paras to form the PBA’s “Awesome Threesome.” He won the league’s Best Import award a record seven times, and he won all seven in a row. He posted the gargantuan numbers that were expected of PBA imports in that era: Averages of 43 points and 16 rebounds during his Best Import streak and a career-high scoring average of 52.6 points per game in 1989. He set the bar for himself so high that in 1992, the PBA yearbook lamented that Parks Sr. “averaged a mere 39.9 points per game.”
Los Angeles Lakers guard Jordan Clarkson will not suit up for Philippine national basketball team anytime soon. In an email to US-based Philstar.com contributor Homer Sayson, Mike Clarkson, Jordan’s father, cited timing as a factor in his son’s decision to pass on the chance to don the country’s colors, emphasizing Jordan’s current commitment with the Lakers in the NBA.