Asian Games: maestro performance is a perfect parting gift from Jordan Clarkson as he helps Gilas to basketball victory over Japan
The Cleveland Cavaliers player finally gets his first win with Philippines in classification game victory over rivals, before jetting back to training camp in the US
It was a long time coming, but Jordan Clarkson finally made his trip out to Indonesia from the United States worthwhile on Tuesday when he was the lynchpin in an impressive Philippines performance as the Gilas secured a deserved Asian Games 113-80 win over long-time regional rivals Japan.
It may be for the minor placings, but it was a committed and accomplished performance from the Philippines against a Japan side somewhat depleted after the sensational ejection of four key members of their squad in the opening days of the Games.
Still, the win only became anything like routine when Philippines pulled away in the second half of the game.
During the opening two quarters the teams had been well matched and neck-and-neck in the scoring.
Clarkson, with a frisson of excitement accompanying his every touch in a capacity auditorium, was the difference.
The 26-year-old Filipino/American, who appeared in Jakarta courtesy of a last-minute release by his NBA side Cleveland Cavaliers, grabbed 22 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists in another performance that highlighted his value to the national team before he heads back to the US to link up with his teammates at training camp ahead of the new NBA season.
Gilas coach Yeng Guiao again praised the performance of Clarkson and the affect he has on his teammates.
“I think that’s a good going-away present for Jordan [Clarkson] who’s going to go back to the States and to the NBA camp,” Guiao said.
“He made his teammates look good, that’s natural for him,” he added. “He’s a great passer and he can score when he wants to but he just let his teammates play in this game. He found them when they were open and that really helped us in the third and fourth quarter.”
Philippines now move on to contest the 5th/6th place match against either hosts Indonesia or Syria on Friday, and Guiao said he’s aiming for a winning finish to their Asian Games campaign, even without their key man.
“We want to feel good about this whole thing,” Guiao said. “We’ve had some sorry losses, but we still want to finish strong.
“Overall I’m very happy with the way the guys played. We could have done better but the breaks didn’t go our way. I’m still happy with the way things turned out,” he added. “Our objective was to better our last Asian Games finish – as of now that’s already been achieved.”
As has been the case throughout this tournament for the Philippines, the final word was on Clarkson and specifically, if we’re likely to see him in the white and blue of Gilas again.
“We want him to return and play for us again as a member of our national team,” Guioa said. “But there are some things to be considered: the schedules and the NBA – before we got him to play here we had to go through a lot. I’m not really sure about having him again.”
Even if it was just a brief cameo from the US-based player, the tournament, and Philippines’ results, were better for having Clarkson involved.