MANILA, Philippines – Jordan Clarkson is out to get a pair of wins as he reunites with Gilas Pilipinas for the first time in four years.
The Filipino-American NBA player said winning against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this August is the goal as he serves as a naturalized player for the national team.
“Just win,” Clarkson told Martie Bautista of News5 when asked about his expectations as he arrived in the country from Los Angeles on Friday, August 19.
Beating Lebanon will be a tall order for the Philippines after the Cedars nearly reigned in the FIBA Asia Cup, falling just a shot short from pulling off a colossal upset against defending champion Australia in the final.
Also, the Lebanon game will be played in Beirut, making it a harder task for Gilas Pilipinas to pull off a win on the road.
But the arrival of the former NBA Sixth Man of the Year is expected to bridge the gap in firepower between the Philippines and Lebanon, which will be led by star guard Wael Arakji.
Hailed the new best point guard in Asia, Arakji took home the MVP honors in the Asia Cup with a tournament-leading 26 points on top of 4 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 steals.
Clarkson, though, is a legitimate NBA talent who plays valuable minutes for the Utah Jazz.
Even with little preparation in the lead-up to the 2018 Asian Games, Clarkson posted 26 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists to lead Gilas Pilipinas to a fifth-place finish.
Clarkson will join the national team in practice on Saturday before they fly to Beirut on Monday for their August 25 clash against Lebanon.
He will then see action in his first home game for Gilas Pilipinas on August 29 as they host Saudi Arabia at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com