Basketball is popular in the Philippines, and Filipino players have made significant contributions to the NBA.
When it comes to their NBA representation, Filipino basketball fans have a lot to be proud of.
There have been several players with Filipino roots who have made their mark in the league, either as draft picks or undrafted free agents.
Today, we’ll take a close look at some of the most famous Filipino Americans who are lighting up the courts and representing their heritage on a global stage.
10. Erik Spoelstra
Erik Spoelstra is the Miami Heat’s head coach, and he has led the team to four NBA Finals appearances and two championships.
He is the NBA’s first Asian-American head coach and the first Asian-American head coach to win a championship. He was born to a Filipina mother and an American father in Evanston, Illinois.
He was not drafted by any NBA team, but he joined the Heat in 1995 as a video coordinator and rose through the ranks to become head coach in 2008.
9. Raymond Townsend
Townsend was born in California to a Filipino mother and an American father. He attended UCLA and was a member of two NCAA championship teams coached by John Wooden.
He was drafted by the Golden State Warriors in the 1978 NBA draft and played three seasons in the NBA for the Warriors and the Indiana Pacers, averaging 3.2 points and 1.4 assists per game. He is considered as the first Filipino American to play in the NBA.
8. Andray Blatche
Andray Blatche was born in New York to a Filipina mother and an African-American father.
He attended South Kent School in Connecticut and was drafted by the Washington Wizards in the 2005 NBA draft.
He played nine seasons in the NBA for the Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets, averaging 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
In 2014, he became a naturalized Filipino citizen and joined the Philippine national team for the 2014 FIBA World Cup and the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
7. Kai Sotto
Sotto is a promising young center who was born and raised in the Philippines. He started playing basketball at age 11 and quickly rose to fame for his height and skills.
He moved to the United States in 2019 to pursue his NBA dream and joined The Skill Factory, a prep school in Atlanta.
He was ranked as one of the top prospects in the 2020 NBA draft, but he decided to skip it and join the NBA G League Ignite, a developmental team for elite prospects.
He is also a member of the Philippine national team and hopes to play in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
6. Gabe Norwood
Norwood was born in North Carolina to a Filipino mother and an American father.
He attended George Mason University and was drafted in the 2007 NBA draft by the Seattle SuperSonics.
However, he never played in the NBA and instead pursued a career in the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA), where he became a star for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
He is also a member of the Philippine national team and has won several medals in international competitions.
5. Kihei Clark
Point guard Kihei Clark plays for the Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team. He is proud of his Filipino heritage through his mother.
Clark has helped lead the Cavaliers to tournament success in the ACC and NCAA. His court vision and playmaking make him a valuable floor general. Clark embodies the Filipino value of hard work through his dedication to improving.
4. DJ Mitchell
Playing professionally in Europe now after college basketball in the U.S., DJ Mitchell is another up-and-coming player of Filipino descent.
As a shooting guard, Mitchell showed scoring prowess for Hartford. He just missed leading them to a conference title. Mitchell continues developing his game overseas and may attempt an NBA comeback.
3. Nate Robinson
A former NBA player with a sliver of Filipino ancestry is Nate Robinson. Though he is mostly African American, Robinson has acknowledged his 1/8 Filipino roots.
Despite his diminutive stature at just 5’9″, Robinson had a long NBA career thanks to his tenacious defense and leaping ability. He won three NBA Slam Dunk Contests. Robinson proved size does not limit potential.
2. Jalen Green
Another rising star proudly representing the Philippines is Jalen Green. Just in his second NBA season playing for the Houston Rockets, Green has already shown flashes of brilliance with his athleticism, ball-handling, and scoring ability.
He is poised for stardom in the league. Like Clarkson, Green’s mother is Filipino and he has embraced his cultural background, even doing a promotional tour in Manila.
Green’s success gives basketball fans in the Philippines reason to be excited about the future.
1. Jordan Clarkson
One of the most accomplished players with Filipino roots is Jordan Clarkson. Currently playing as a shooting guard for the Utah Jazz, Clarkson has established himself as a reliable scorer off the bench.
He is a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year award winner, demonstrating his value despite not starting. Clarkson is proud of his mixed Filipino-American heritage and has visited the Philippines several times. He serves as an inspiration for young basketball hopefuls in the country.
These are just some of the examples of Filipino/Filipino origin basketball players who have made it to the NBA or undrafted.
Their accomplishments demonstrate that heritage is no barrier to success at the highest levels of the sport. Players like Clarkson and Green, in particular, are changing perceptions by thriving in the NBA.
They serve as sources of pride and inspiration for basketball fans and young athletes in the Philippines. Filipino representation in the sport will likely only continue growing in the coming years. This is just a sampling of the top Filipino American basketball talent gracing the NBA and other leagues.