Asian Games: sympathy for Jordan Clarkson after NBA star fails to fire Gilas to victory against South Korea
Philippines basketball team lost both games that the Cleveland Cavaliers star played in Indonesia
There was sympathy for NBA star Jordan Clarkson as his Philippines side was eliminated from the Asian Games in Jakarta on Monday following an 82-91 loss to South Korea.
Gilas guard-forward Gabe Norwood spoke out in defence of his high-profile teammate, whose arrival in the team camp after a last-minute release from his NBA side Cleveland Cavaliers was hailed as a huge boost for the national team’s chances of landing a medal in Indonesia.
In the event, Clarkson struggled to find his best rhythm for the first half of the loss to South Korea despite eventually posting 25 points and eight rebounds, and his 28-point haul in the narrow 82-80 loss to China during group play wasn’t enough to secure the win.
“I feel bad for Jordan,” said Norwood. “He came out and hasn’t gotten a win with us yet, and a lot of that goes on us.”
“He’s putting his heart out there on both ends of the court and it comes down to guys like myself to help us get wins down the stretch and we got to find a way to do that,” Norwood added.
As it stands, Philippines, one of the pre-tournament favourites despite their hectic preparation, have won only one of three games in Indonesia, the opening group game against Kazakhstan that they played without Clarkson.
Defeat to South Korea means they now go into the classification rounds with a fifth-place finish the best they can achieve.
Little of the blame for the team’s under-performance can be attributed to Clarkson, though. The 26-year-old has so far averaged 26.5 points, 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals in his two games.
Instead Gilas coach, Yeng Guiao, was eager to take responsibility for the loss to Korea.
“It was a bad loss, but I’ll take responsibility for it,” said Guiao.
“We were in the game, I think till the last five or six minutes, until we committed some crucial turnovers. We were just not comfortable with the zone. Even Jordan had some problems with the zone, and they just zoned us all game long,” he added referencing South Korea’s defensive tactics.
Philippines led at the half-way stage of a very close match and carried that lead into the final quarter, before Korea powered back.
“It was a good effort,” said Guiao. “The guys gave it their all, and I couldn’t ask anything more from them.”
Gilas have now not beaten South Korea at the Asian Games since 1962.
The Philippines last chance to salvage some pride from their doomed Asian Games campaign comes against old foes Japan on Tuesday in the classification round.