Kyle Anderson says Rhenz Abando also key for Gilas vs China
MANILA, Philippines — Aside from Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Anderson admitted Rhenz Abando was also the key for Gilas Pilipinas in turning back China, 96-75, in their final Fiba World Cup 2023 game on Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Anderson, who goes by his Chinese name Li Kaier, left everything on the floor with 17 points, nine rebounds, and five assists but his first World Cup stint didn’t end well as China lost its final classification match against the home team, which rode on the hot hands of Clarkson.
Clarkson played his best game in a Philippines jersey, finishing with 34 points, 24 coming in the third quarter.
“Jordan Clarkson. As simple as that. They went up 20. He hit [four] threes in a row and got some tough buckets. He got going. He’s a really good player,” said the Chinese naturalized player, who has been playing against Clarkson from college to the NBA.
But Abando also caught the attention of the Minnesota Timberwolves forward with his solid outing on both ends of the floor.
Abando emerged as the top local performer with 14 points, five rebounds, and a block against the NBA veteran.
“I’m not sure, what his name or number is, he got the block on my eurostep,” Anderson said referring to Abando. “He and Jordan Clarkson turned the game around. Simple as that, they played really well. Hats off to those guys.”
Anderson took the blame after China, which wrapped up the World Cup with the same record as Gilas, failed to recover from Clarkson’s avalanche of baskets.
“I think I didn’t give enough obviously. They played well. They played hard. They had the fans behind them and Jordan played great. Credit to those guys competing,” he said.
The 29-year-old Anderson admitted he had a tough time in his first World Cup but he still relished the experience of playing for China and expressed his desire to continue representing the country moving forward.
“It’s tough. There are some really good teams out there. A lot of these teams have been playing together for a long time. I don’t want to make excuses, but I think we got a lot more work to do, and everyone knows that,” Anderson said. “We’re going to get to work and I want to be able to continue to be a part of this for Chinese basketball. Just a lot more work to do. I’m actually excited to get to work. We just need to see where we stand and now is the time to make improvements and get better.”
“I loved the experience. Being around with all these great players and competing with my team was awesome. Competing for China was awesome. The fans, they loved us, they supported us even through the tough times. Playing for coach Sasha was a great experience. I learned a lot. I loved the experience,” he added.
With the World Cup over, Anderson shifts his focus to the NBA season with the Timberwolves, who will be led by his fellow World Cup campaigners Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.
“I got the NBA season coming up for the Minnesota Timberwolves. I didn’t want to think about that until I’m here, I’m present here with the guys here. Obviously, we know the NBA season is coming up and we’re just getting ready for that. Going back to America for the season,” he said.