Utah Jazz man Jordan Clarkson hopes to fly Philippines flag at NBA All-Star Game

Utah Jazz man Jordan Clarkson remains hopeful of flying the flag for the Philippines at the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 19 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City. FIBA

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson is hopeful he will get to represent the Philippines at the 2023 NBA All-Star Game to be held Feb. 19 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.

The Fil-American guard hasn't cracked the top ten yet in fan voting for the two guard spots on the Western Conference All-Star starters, but a lot can still happen between now and the deadline for fan voting on Jan. 19. Fan votes will account for 50% of starters' votes, with fellow NBA players and media accounting for 25% each.

Clarkson is aware of -- and thankful for -- the campaign in the Philippines that aims to muster more votes for him.

"It makes me feel great to be loved and supported," he said during an online interview with the Philippine media. "It's the best feeling ever.

"For me, I definitely want to represent myself, my family, the country in the All-Star Game. I just feel the love, like always."

If Clarkson doesn't make it to the Western Conference All-Star starters, he could still make his first All-Star team as one of seven reserves to be picked by the league's 30 head coaches, especially as he is averaging a career-high 20.7 points per game.

"Just picking my spots throughout the game," he said, when asked about his scoring surge.

"From me being aggressive scoring, knowing when that time is and also being aggressive in making plays for my teammates. That's the biggest thing I've been balancing throughout this whole year."

Clarkson feels he deserves to get an All-Star nod, adding: "I think I'm playing at an All-Star caliber. I know we gotta win more games before the All-Star break to kind of push us up to the top of the West.

"But I think I've been playing at a high level. I know in the West they've got a lot of talented guards. But I feel like I can represent Utah, the Philippines at the All-Star Game if it happens. It would be exciting if that happens."

After a hot start, the Jazz currently sit at ninth place in the crowded Western Conference, right in the middle of the seedings for the play-in tournament.

Clarkson thinks they'll turn it around soon, stating: "I think we've got a good chance. I think we've got a good team with everything that's happened early in the season.

"I think we've had the toughest schedule in the league. But with the schedule coming up, us being at home not traveling much, being able to play in front of our fans here in Utah, we're gonna string together a bunch of games and move right back up to the top of the West.

"There's not too much separation, so a five-game win streak, ten-game win streak can put us right back up the top the West."

The Jazz weren't expected to be in the mix this season after trading away franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in the off-season, but the vastly improved play of newcomer Lauri Markkanen, who leads the team in scoring with 24.5 points per game, has Utah thinking of the post-season.

"I think he's been great," Clarkson said of Markkanen. "He's been super efficient, scoring all over the floor. He's been our anchor offensively. We know what we're getting from him every night when he plays on that side of the ball.

"His growth this season is crazy. I think we'd kinda seen it a little bit this summer. A lot of people were like, 'Will he be able to do it in the league?' But I think he's shown around the world that he's really talented.

"He's an All-Star. He's a top guy in this league, he can really score the ball and make some great plays. He's continued to make steps to what his ceiling is gonna be. I don't think he's really scratched much of the surface."

Clarkson appeared genuinely surprised when informed that his former Los Angeles Lakers teammate Nick Young is currently in Manila.

"Just tell him to enjoy the country," was his message for Young, who will play for the Strong Group at the 32nd Dubai International Tournament in late January. "Nick is like a big brother to me. He's been with me since my rookie year. But I hope he enjoys the country. I hope he has fun, he gets buckets. He's probably gonna be a big crowd favorite for sure."

Clarkson said he is "excited" to suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA World Cup to be hosted by the Philippines in late August, even though he hasn't had much communication lately with team officials.

"I haven't really talked much lately with anybody but I know that's in the future plans and what's coming up this summer," he revealed.

"So I'm getting prepared for that as well, my family and my team. So I'm excited for that. But as of right now I don't think too much communication's been happening. But we know that's on the horizon."