Asian Games: Gilas Pilipinas’ Jordan Clarkson faces ‘fight’ from ex-Missouri teammate and South Korea star Ricardo Ratliffe
Ricardo Ratliffe refuses to put himself in the same league as Jordan Clarkson, but the key playmaker for South Korea is vowing to give the Philippines NBA star a fight when they meet in the Asian Games basketball play-offs.
The 29-year-old Hampton-born Ratliffe, who stands 2.03 metres (six-foot-eight), became a naturalised Korean in January 2018 after being selected sixth by Ulsan Mobis Phoebus in the 2012 Korean Basketball League draft.
He led defending champions South Korea with 21 points in their 117-77 victory over Thailand in their pool A encounter on Wednesday to set up a quarter-final against Philippines, who lost 82-80 to China in their last group game.
“Jordan Clarkson, he is an NBA star,” Ratliffe, who used to play practice games with Cleveland Cavaliers’ Clarkson when they both attended the University of Missouri, told Korean media. “He scores 14 points on average in one game and that tells you he is one of the best players in the world.
“I just have to play against him in the game. I look forward to the fight. This is just a basketball game. They are men like us. There is no reason to fear the Philippines.”
China beat Kazakhstan 83-66 in their second pool D games on Thursday, ensuring the Filipinos finish second in the group and play pool A winners South Korea.
Liu Zhixuan top-scored for China with 18 points as Houston Rockets’ Zhou Qi, who scored 25 against the Gilas, took a back seat with nine points. Dallas Mavericks’ Ding Yanyuhang hit 14 points while Zhao Rui scored 11.
Ratliffe urged his teammates to step up and play with more confidence. If they can beat the Philippines, they will be favourites to meet China in the final where they will come up against two more players from the NBA – Zhou and Ding.
“Our players are much better than they think. Sometimes, they are afraid and think they can’t. But they really can, and they are just nervous,” he said.
Ratliffe has the advantage of knowing exactly what to expect against the Gilas Philippines squad. He spent two stints with Philippines pro team Star Hotshots and will be facing some of his former teammates in the last-eight game.
Clarkson made an impressive debut for the Gilas, having only been given late clearance by the NBA to take part in the Asian Games along with Zhou and Ding.
He scored 28 points as the Philippines came agonisingly close to beating China, even holding an 80-77 lead, before the gold medal favourites fought back to win thanks to two free throws from Zhao Rui.
The men’s basketball quarter-finals take place on Monday at the Jakarta Convention Centre complex.