FIBA World Cup

Clarkson dazzles at home as Gilas Pilipinas drubs Saudi Arabia

Delfin Dioquino
Clarkson dazzles at home as Gilas Pilipinas drubs Saudi Arabia

SHOWMAN. Jordan Clarkson treats Filipino fans with an abundance of highlight reel plays.

Michael Gatpandan/Rappler

Jordan Clarkson puts on a show before a mammoth crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena as he powers Gilas Pilipinas to a 38-point rout of Saudi Arabia in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines – Jordan Clarkson would not be denied in his first home game with Gilas Pilipinas.

Clarkson put on a show before a jam-packed crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena and towed Gilas Pilipinas to an 84-46 win over Saudi Arabia in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Monday, August 29.

Flashing the form that won him the NBA Sixth Man of the Year, the Utah Jazz standout churned out 23 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds as the Philippines bucked a lethargic start to hike its Asian Qualifiers record to an even 3-3.

The hosts trailed 11-14 after the maiden period before Clarkson connived with Dwight Ramos in the second quarter to help Gilas Pilipinas grab a double-digit lead before it settled for a 37-28 advantage at halftime.

Nearly 20,000 fans – including President Bongbong Marcos – trooped to the Arena and Clarkson made sure they got what they paid for as he dazzled with an abundance of highlight reel plays, including a buzzer-beater from near half-court to end the opening quarter.

Riding high on the momentum Clarkson built, Gilas Pilipinas demolished the visitors 24-8 in the third quarter and never looked back on the way to the 38-point rout.

Kai Sotto backstopped Clarkson with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks, while Ramos had 9 points and 6 rebounds as the Philippines redeemed itself from its sorry 85-81 loss to Lebanon just three days ago.

“I think I felt all the energy in the crowd, I think we all did, as a team,” said Clarkson, who also picked up his first FIBA win.

“It is different playing at home, in front of your own people, and this arena is beautiful. I cannot wait to come back here again and play some more games.”

Japeth Aguilar and Kiefer Ravena chimed in 8 points apiece for the Filipinos, while Ray Parks and Calvin Oftana added 6 points each in the lopsided win that gave embattled head coach Chot Reyes some reprieve.

As much as the fans showered the Filipino players with love, they made their disdain for Reyes felt by booing him every time he was shown on the big screen.

The boos were particularly louder when the Philippines trailed, but Reyes made the necessary adjustments in the second half where they outscored Saudi Arabia 47-18.

“For me, I’d much rather get booed by the crowd than the players get booed,” Reyes said. “Just support the players.”

Khalid Abdel Gabar tallied 9 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds to lead the Saudis, who fell to 1-5 and remained at fifth place in Group E.

No Saudi Arabia player breached double figures as the team shot a paltry 23% from the field despite having more shot attempts (68-66) than the Philippines.

The Scores

Philippines 84 – Clarkson 23, Sotto 16, Ramos 9, Aguilar 8, K. Ravena 8, Parks 6, Oftana 6, T. Ravena 4, Thompson 2, Malonzo 2, Newsome 0, Adams 0.

Saudi Arabia 46 – Abdel Gabar 9, Kadi 9, Ma. Almarwani 9, Mo. Almarwani 8, Almuwallad 4, Belal 3, Mohammed 2, Abo Jalas 2, Alsager 0, Albargawi 0.

Quarters: 14-11, 37-28, 61-36, 84-46.

– 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.