Gilas Pilipinas fall to Kazakhstan in Fiba World Cup qualifier a day after teammate Jordan Clarkson shines for Cavaliers in the NBA
- Philippines share third place with Japan in group F after their fourth defeat of the campaign
- Only the top three from each pool and the best fourth team advance to the finals
Just a day after Jordan Clarkson had one of his best games of the season for Cleveland in the NBA, his Gilas Pilipinas teammates halfway around the world suffered the heartbreak of a Fiba World Cup qualifying defeat at home to Kazakhstan.
Clarkson, who starred for the Philippines in their Asian Games campaign in August, scored 25 points in a 100-83 loss to Oklahoma City but has not played for the national team since the end of the Jakarta tournament.
And how his teammates missed his three-point shooting skills as they fell 92-88 at home in the Mall of Asia Arena. The loss is a major blow to their hopes of qualifying from the Asian region for next year’s World Cup finals in China and is a reverse of their comfortable victory over the Kazakhs in pool play in Jakarta, when Clarkson sat on the bench,
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The ever-reliable Stanley Pringle was the home team’s best performer with 29 points on 11 for 23 shooting with two out of seven three-pointers made, though he missed a late 3 attempt that could have brought his team level.
Alexandr Zhigulin was the highest scorer for the visitors, pouring in 230 points on 10 for 16 shooting, including six three-pointers from 12 attempts.
Philippines now share third place with Japan with five wins from nine games and four losses in group F with only the top three from each of the two six-team pools qualifying for the finals, along with the best fourth-placed team.
Filipino coach Yeng Guiao said he took responsibility for the defeat.
“Of course, I’m disappointed with the result but we have a game on Monday [against Iran] and we can’t feel too negative about ourselves,” said Yeng. “We can salvage the situation if we play well against Iran and learn the lessons of this game.
“We are still a long way off from being the team we really want to be and to exploit our potential. I’m taking responsibility for this game.
“We were mismatched in terms of quickness. Our guards did well and forced a lot of turnovers but it was not enough to win the game. We gave away a lot of free throws, I think 34, and we allowed them too many three-points. I think they made about 50 per cent of their shots from the three-point line.”
Zhigulin played down his role in the victory, saying it was a team effort.
“We stayed as a family and this is one of the main points as to why we won the game,” he said. “Today I was lucky to get 30 points and we played well. We showed a lot of character and covered each other.
“I’m happy with the win tonight, happy with my score and happy to help the team to victory. Everybody did a good job.”
As soon as Zhigulin completed his first answer, the Kazkah coach, Renatas Kurilionokas, chimed in, saying: “Alexandr, you say you were lucky but you are not lucky, you are a good shooter.”
When asked what the difference was between Jakarta and Manila, Zhigulin said: “It’s a different place, a different environment.”