Filipino-American player and rookie draft hopeful Jalen Green is excited to represent his Philippine roots in the NBA. (SM NBTC League Facebook page)

Filipino-American Jalen Green is expected to go high in the 2021 National Basketball Association Draft on Friday (Manila time).

It is something that he is excited about as he not only gets to fulfil his dream of playing in the NBA but he also has a chance to represent his Philippine roots and his supporters here in the league.

“I love the Philippines. They show love and support. I’m just happy to get to represent them. I’m happy that I have family out there and I’m tied into the Philippines so I’m excited, and I hope they’re excited,too,” said 19-year-old Green, born to a Filipino mother who traces her roots to Ilocos Sur, in the lead-up to the draft.

One of the top high school players in the United States, Mr. Green decided to play in the NBA G League instead of playing collegiate basketball.

He suited for Ignite in the G League where he made many heads turn with his athleticism and competitiveness.

In 15 games with Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Back in 2019, he came to the country and played in the National Basketball Training Center Finals as a member of FilAm Sports.

Pundits have put Mr. Green as a shoo-in top two pick in the draft but not a few are saying he could well go first overall.

For his Ignite coach, Brian Shaw, to see Mr. Green receive much interest from teams is not at all surprising, describing his player as both having the inherent skills set as well an indefatigable work ethic, even likening some of his qualities to that of the late great Kobe Bryant.

“I’ve been around, obviously, Kobe Bryant when he was young, Paul George when he was young and there’s something that those guys have in common. Jalen has that, that mentality, that competitiveness, that will to win regardless of what it is,” said Mr. Shaw, who won NBA titles with Mr. Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers, on online show Republika Huddle.

“He (Green) did not miss a single day of practice. He didn’t miss any games. I don’t think anybody ever beat him when we would run for conditioning in practice. I don’t think anybody ever beat him in a sprint. And so those kinds of things remind me of, especially Kobe, in terms of competitiveness and that will,” the coach added.

In this year’s NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons hold the top overall pick.

The Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic, in that order, complete the top five.

Apart from Mr. Green, rookie prospects gaining interest are Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State, Evan Mobley of University of Southern California, Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga, Scottie Barnes of Florida State and Jonathan Kuminga of Ignite.

The NBA Draft can be seen on NBA TV Philippines and NBA League Pass. The NBA Draft Pre-show and First Round will begin at 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., respectively. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo