FIBA World Cup

Clarkson denied in FIBA debut as Lebanon escapes Gilas Pilipinas in Beirut

Delfin Dioquino
Clarkson denied in FIBA debut as Lebanon escapes Gilas Pilipinas in Beirut

FALL SHORT. Jordan Clarkson and Gilas Pilipinas run out of steam against Lebanon.

FIBA

Jordan Clarkson sees his sizzling FIBA debut go down the drain as Lebanon pulls away in the final minute to beat Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas looked its best in months with NBA player Jordan Clarkson in tow, but Lebanon still proved to be the superior team.

Clarkson saw his sizzling FIBA debut go down the drain as the Lebanese banked on Wael Arakji late to hack out an 85-81 win in the World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Beirut on Thursday, August 25 (Friday, August 26, Manila time).

The Utah Jazz star chalked up 27 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds only to witness Arakji – the reigning FIBA Asia Cup MVP – lift the Cedars to victory with his endgame heroics.

Arakji finished with 24 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists, capping his big time performance with a personal 7-0 run in the final minutes as Lebanon protected its home turf at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex.

Three Japeth Aguilar free throws knotted the score at 78-78 before Arakji scored 7 unanswered points highlighted by a clutch three-pointer.

Kai Sotto swatted away an Ali Haidar shot with the Philippines trailing 78-80, but Arakji picked up the offensive rebound and drained the crucial trey to beat the shot clock with 16.3 ticks left.

Dwight Ramos backstopped Clarkson in the loss with all-around numbers of 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 steals, while Sotto put up 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Although the Filipinos managed to keep in step with the formidable Lebanese crew that recently won silver in the Asia Cup, their inability to protect the ball proved to be their undoing.

Gilas Pilipinas went on a sizzling 9-2 start and even led by as big as 10 but ended the game with 21 turnovers, which Lebanon cashed in for 22 points. 

“We had too many turnovers. Turnovers were really the big difference in this ball game,” said Philippine head coach Chot Reyes as his side fell to 2-3 in Group E.

Aguilar tallied 11 points and 6 rebounds, while Chris Newsome and Jamie Malonzo added 3 points apiece in their respective Gilas Pilipinas debuts.

Draining a couple of big threes in the third quarter, Amir Saoud fired 17 points on top of 4 rebounds and 2 steals for the Cedars, who improved to 4-1.

Ali Haidar chimed in 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists in the win.

The Scores

Lebanon 85 – Arakji 24, Saoud 17, Haidar 10, Gyokchyan 9, Zeinoun 7, Arledge 6, Chamoun 3, Ezzedine 3, Mansour 3, Mezher 3.

Philippines 81 – Clarkson 27, Ramos 18, Aguilar 11, Sotto 10, Thompson 4,  Newsome 3,  Malonzo 3, K. Ravena 3, T. Ravena 2, Parks 0, Tamayo 0, Oftana 0.

Quarters: 22-25, 49-47, 68-63, 85-81.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.