Asian Games 2018: Gilas stars Jordan Clarkson and Stanley Pringle ready for China after Philippines thrash Kazakhstan
After convincing win over Kazakhstan in basketball opener, Asi Taulava says NBA star Jordan Clarkson can help Philippines ‘get lucky’ against China
“Get ready, China for the JC and Pringle show.” That’s the message from 45-year-old Filipino star Asi Taulava, who is confident the Philippines can cause a major shock and beat the Chinese in their Asian Games basketball pool game on Tuesday.
Taulava is referring to Jordan Clarkson, the Cleveland Cavaliers star who was released by the NBA to play in the Asian Games, and former US college player Stanley Pringle, who scored a team-high 18 points in their opening 96-59 victory over Kazakhstan.
“But it’s not just those two,” says Tongan-born Taulavi, one of the most popular players in the Philippines who has been part of the national set-up for 18 years. “We’ve got a lot of players who can do the job.”
The Philippines has been playing professional basketball since 1975 and dominated the early competitions of the Asian Games by winning the first four gold medals since 1951.
However, they have been in the shadow of China, South Korea and other countries since their last gold medal in Jakarta in 1962.
The last time the Gilas finished in the medals was when they won bronze in 1998 in Bangkok.
Coach Yeng Guiao is looking at the China game from an academic perspective, believing that victory over the gold medal favourites would give them an easier passage in the play-offs.
Also in group D are Palestine and the top two after a round robin advance to the quarter-finals.
Guiao said at a training session on Friday that Clarkson was fitting right in.
“You can see he’s very quick, you can see his skills are refined and fine-tuned. So he’s really a big help against China,” he was quoted as saying.
“You want it to be natural, you want it to be automatic, and you want that to be ingrained in him, even under pressure against China. So we have four days to do that.
“We expected a close game against Kazakhstan and our preparation was good. As for China, if we get lucky and beat them, we might get a light assignment later on. We hope to give ourselves a chance.”
Clarkson, who was only given clearance this past week after the NBA made a U-turn on its decision to bar players from the Asian Games, sat on the sidelines for the Kazakhstan game but is expected to start against China.
Pringle is one of the stars of the team and is expected to shoulder much of the burden in terms of scoring for the Gilas.
“It was great, man. We all played a hard team game. We all played together,” the 31-year-old was quoted as saying. “What coach Yeng wants is to play together. He wants us to gel on and off the court. We’ve been doing that the whole time. We just put that together, come out there on the court, and execute.”
The Chinese squad have yet to arrive in Jakarta because they are playing an exhibition tournament in Shenzhen. China has two national teams, Red and Blue and it is the Red team who will play in Jakarta.
The Chinese feature two NBA players, Houston Rockets’ Zhou Qi and Dallas Mavericks’ Ding Yanyuhang, though both players have minimal playing time compared to Clarkson.
“The China coach Li Nan hasn’t really said much about the Philippines team,” said one Beijing-based China journalist.