|photo by Inquirer|
NHA TRANG—He wasn’t exactly named after one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
But 15-year-old Jordan Heading got into the sport, anyway, and just excelled quite naturally.
As the national youth team’s latest recruit, Heading hopes to provide the spark the retooled Energen Pilipinas Under-16 needs when it kicks off its campaign in the Fiba Asia U16 tournament on Wednesday in this coastal city here in Vietnam.
“I’m used to American basketball so it (the PH game) is a lot slower paced and the Filipino-style is a lot about driving and going to the hoop,” said Heading, a Filipino-Australian who only joined the team two months ago.
“It’s different but I’m adjusting. I like the fast play.”
Heading, a 6-foot-1 wingman, remains upbeat of the Philippines’ chances even if he’s one of the seven in the team’s 12-man roster making their international playing debut.
“They’re going to be bigger than us, there are seven-footers from China, India,” he said. “But one of our coaches said our guards are the quickest in Asia so we’ll definitely use that to our advantage.”
The Philippines opens its bid against Indonesia on Wednesday, then takes on host Vietnam the next day in Group D of the preliminary round.
“We’ve got a lot of skills, those guys are crazy ball-handlers,” Heading said of his teammates. “They have crazy in-and-out moves. I think we’ve got very good chances. We all want it so bad.”
Heading–whose father Tim is Australian and mother Sally a Filipina—has been living in Taiwan with his family the past decade. He’s currently a Morrison High School sophomore.
“Sometimes I’d like to think that [my parents named me after Michael Jordan], but I think they just like the name,” Heading said with a laugh.
He played scrimmages with the Blue Eagles and eventually got invited to play for the national youth team.
“I love it, it’s so much fun,” said Heading. “I haven’t played so much with my age group because in Taiwan, where I am, there’s a lower level of competition. So I usually play against guys a couple of years older than me and these guys [in the youth team] are just really good.”
“We’re motivated,” he added after the team’s training. “I think it’s time the Philippines gets the reputation it deserves. It’s the greatest place in the world to play basketball, so it’s about time that we’re known worldwide as a basketball nation.”