Aulyn Gwen Bergado
Jordan Clarkson unleashes his might as he brings home the first world cup victory for the Philippines. Photo courtesy of FIBA Philippines.
A well orchestrated third canto by Jordan Clarkson lifted Gilas Pilipinas against China, eking out a 96-75 win in their final match in FIBA Basketball World Cup today in Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Though Gilas ended the cup with a 1-4 slate, this win signified Gilas’ first World Cup victory since 2014, during the time of Andray Blatche, LA Tenorio, Jimmy Alapag and the likes.
Till their last matchup, Clarkson proved that he is an unstoppable force for the Filipinos as he amassed 34 points, 20 of which he scored in the third quarter, on top of three assists, two boards and a steal.
Rhenz Abando also maximized his minutes as he uncorked 14 markers laced with five rebounds, an assist and a steal while Kai Sotto and Dwight Ramos poured 12 and 11, respectively.
Gilas proved that they want to end their campaign on a high note as they played their hearts out in front of the Filipino audiences in their last matchup in line with their chant, “Puso.”
Both teams engaged in a back-and-forth affair early on in the match with Roger Pogoy providing firepower for Gilas and Zhenlin Zhang for Team Dragon.
Rhenz Abando made his presence felt inside the court as he coined a triple and executive tremendous defense to lift Gilas by five, 53-48.
Clarkson continued to be the source of light on Gilas as he drilled four consecutive triples, hacking out a blazing 24-4 blitz for the Chot Reyes-led squad.
Team Dragon struggled to put up with the renewed energy that Gilas was showing as they showed lousy defense en route to the fourth quarter.
Li Kaier paced China with 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and a steal, backed by Zhang who contributed 13 to end their campaign also on a 1-4 record.
Quarter scores: 16-16, 39-40, 73-51, 96-75
PHILIPPINES (96) — Clarkson 34, Abando 14, Sotto 12, Ramos 11, Fajardo 9, Pogoy 7, Edu 5, Thompson 4, Ravena 0, Aguilar 0.
CHINA (75) — Li Kaier 17, Zhang Zhenlin 13, Hu Mingxuan 12, Zhao Rui 12, Hu Jinqiu 10, Zhu Junlong 5, Zhou Qi 2, Cui Yongxi 2, Fu Hao 2, Zhao Jiwei 0.