Winning Asiad finish 'good going away present' for Clarkson
MANILA, Philippines – Already out of medal contention, the Philippine men’s basketball team will try to salvage a fifth-place finish in the 2018 Asian Games as a “good going away present” for Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson.
National team head coach Yeng Guiao and his wards will shoot for the country's best finish in 16 years when they go up against Syria in their final Asiad game.
“We're trying to finish on a winning note, so I think that's a good going away present for Jordan who's going to go back to the States and go to the NBA camp,” Guiao told reporters in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Heading into Jakarta, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’ marching orders for the Philippine team was to improve its seventh-place finish in the 2014 edition of the quadrennial meet.
That goal had already been achieved after the Nationals annihilated Japan by 33 points in their classification round match on Tuesday, August 28, to secure at least the sixth place. (READ: Gilas drubs 8-man Japan, eyes 5th place in 2018 Asian Games)
But against Syria, the Philippines is expected to pull out all the stops, especially since it would mean the country’s best finish in the Asian Games since 2002 when it landed at fourth place.
“We want to feel good about this whole thing. Of course, we've had some sorry losses, but we still wanna finish strong with some wins,” Guiao said.
“When we first came here, our objective was really to better our last Asian Games finish, but I think as of now, it's already been achieved. But we can do better, so we'll try to do that on Friday.”
With Clarkson still on board, the Philippines is touted as the favorite against Syria in their battle-for-fifth clash on Friday, August 31. – With a report from Beatrice Go in Jakarta/Rappler.com