Jordan Clarkson says Gilas teammates, fans paved way for 34-point performance
MANILA, Philippines — Jordan Clarkson attributed his best game in a Gilas Pilipinas jersey to his teammates and the frenetic Filipino fans at Araneta Coliseum on Saturday night.
Clarkson fired 24 of his Fiba career-high 34 points in a blistering third-quarter display, highlighted by five triples, to propel Gilas past China, 96-75, in the Fiba World Cup.
“The basket felt big at that point,” said Clarkson after making sure the Philippines wouldn’t leave empty-handed in the World Cup this time.
“We got a good flow. All [World] Cup [long], the guys have been hounding me, I’ve been aggressive and not able to get free get the shots and rhythm that I’m used to taking it. But in that third quarter, my teammates just found me. We started to get good screens and good looks and just able knock them down.”
Jordan Clarkson went ballistic in the third period to lift Gilas Pilipinas over China in their final game 🔥
— FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 🏆 (@FIBAWC) September 2, 2023
In a one-minute and 20-second stretch in that pivotal third period, Clarkson couldn’t miss–draining four consecutive 3-pointers–as Gilas Pilipinas pulled away and never relented.
“We just continued to stick with it. Teammates are finding me in transition, I’m hitting some open shots. I feel like this whole [tournament] I really haven’t been able to get free and you know, get into a super crazy rhythm just because of how defenses were playing me and stuff like that,” Clarkson told reporters. “My teammates found me, got me open, and I just made shots.”
Clarkson and Gilas also fed off much-needed energy from the crowd, which packed the Big Dome despite the heavy downpour.
“And the energy from the crowd. When you start hearing that as loud as it was, it’s gonna hard to calm me down at that time and I stayed hot. The crowd was just amazing. The fans were amazing. There was just so much energy in there. We just really want a win and gift them that,” Clarkson said. “With everything going on, the weather, whatever it is, they came out here and supported us. We wanted to continue to fight. We’ve been doing that all [World] Cup. Putting down all the love for the country and just respect for our families and everything.”
“All of us gave our 110 percent effort and as the fans as well, packing the stadium and being loud. They had a big part in us winning and pushing us to this last [win],” he added.
Clarkson admitted he was frustrated by his shooting struggles for the four games–all of which were losses–including an 87-68 loss to South Sudan two nights ago at the start of the classification phase.
“It was a good win. Just coming in here, the early games were kinda heartbreaking, losing those. To tell you one thing, when I started this whole tournament, we continued to fight. This game, I don’t know if it meant something for the rankings or classifications or anything, but we came out here ready to fight because we got respect, we love playing for our country in (front) of our jerseys,” Clarkson said.
The Utah Jazz guard was just relieved to end their campaign with a win after losing nine in a row dating back to the 2019 World Cup in Foshan, China.
“It feels good. It’s been a tough tournament but we kept fighting, we kept competing, and we kept playing. We really want to end this on the right note. We might not see the same guys in the locker room after this. But at the same time, we just wanted to show heart, fight and resilience,” he said.