Jordan Clarkson stars as Gilas beats China, ends Fiba World Cup with win
MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas, saving its best for last, dismantled China, 96-75, behind Jordan Clarkson’s third-quarter explosion to end its 2023 Fiba World Cup homestand on a winning note on Saturday.
Gilas Pilipinas came out the gates hard, and for a change, kept it together until the final horn at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, to the delight of over 11,000 spectators.
“We just had two words on our board, no Xs and Os. ‘Dig deep.’ We reminded the players that this being a non-bearing game, Filipinos still came to watch. We wanted to gift the Filipino people for their continued belief in the team. And that’s what the players did,” national coach Chot Reyes said in the post-game presser.
Clarkson, to nobody’s surprise, led the way with 34 points—24 of which came in a feisty third-quarter attack that broke the game wide open.
Gilas opened the game with seven unanswered points and then saw that cushion wiped out by the Chinese at the end of the opening period. The Nationals hung on in the second until Clarkson caught fire in the third, hitting four triples to help forge a 13-point advantage going into the payoff frame.
— FIBA (@FIBA) September 2, 2023
Rhenz Abando chipped in 14 points, while cornerstone Dwight Ramos added 11 as the Philippines tabbed a sixth win overall against the regional powerhouse on both Fiba and the Olympic stage.
Kai Sotto finished with 14 points that went with six rebounds, June Mar Fajardo scored nine, Roger Pogoy seven and AJ Edu five for commendable effort at a time when the squad was missing Jamie Malonzo who sat out the contest after falling awkwardly on his back during the loss to South Sudan.
“It feels good. It’s been a tough tournament but we kept fighting, and we kept playing. That’s what we really wanted to do,” said Clarkson, who has been one of the tournament’s leading scorers.
The Philippines thus ends the 2023 World Cup with a 1-4 record, tying its record in the edition held in Seville, Spain nine years ago. Gilas finished second in Group M behind Olympics-bound South Sudan.
Naturalized ace Kyle Anderson had 17 points and nine rebounds for Team Dragon. Zhang Zhenlin pumped in 13 points, Zhao Rui and Hu Mingxuan 12 each, Hu Jinqui 10 as China also settled for a 1-4 record for a dead-last place in Group M.
“They grew up,” Aleksandar Đorđević said of Gilas, which he belittled in the last World Cup. “Incorporating a player like Clarkson gave them a lot of inside courage. That’s what a player of his capability, talent, and quality can bring to the group. That’s something you can transfer to the group through your way of playing, through your way of fighting. And he’s definitely the leader of this Philippine team.”
With the win, Gilas bolstered its chances of gaining passage into the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments which will dangle four more berths to the Paris Summer Games next year. The Philippines is currently the third-best Asian team in the race behind Japan (3-2) and Lebanon (2-3).
Jordan Clarkson after his 34-point explosion to lead Gilas’ big win over China. #FIBAWCREAD: inq.news/Gilas-vs-China
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Saturday, September 2, 2023