FIBA WC: Clarkson sees positives in hard-fighting Gilas despite setback

Jordan Clarkson’s return to a Gilas Pilipinas uniform did not end the way fans wanted to, but the NBA super sub said says he still saw positives in the Philippines’ close 85-81 loss to Lebanon on Friday morning (Manila time).

Clarkson came up with a remarkable performance expected from a legitimate NBA caliber player, delivering a game-high 27 points along with six rebounds and seven assists. However, it wasn’t enough as the home side leaned on the hot hands of reigning FIBA Asia Cup Most Valuable Player Wael Arajki who stunned the nationals in clutch time.

Nevertheless, the Utah Jazz guard mentioned that there is a lot of potential with the current roster.

“I think we did a good job in competing. Coach prepared us well in terms of scouting this team out. We had a great game plan coming in,” Clarkson said, adding that turnovers and missed shots contributed to Gilas’ demise in the match.

“But with all the turnovers, we’re gonna miss shots and stuff like that. But it’s hard to win with 20-plus turnovers in a game like this especially with the home crowd behind them. But for us, it’s bright. We are just getting this team together. We got some good young stars in the team.”

Gilas did commit 21 turnovers, and gave some untimely offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, including one which led to Arakji’s eventual dagger triple with 18 seconds left which pushed Lebanon ahead, 83-78.

Instead of being downhearted, the 6-foot-5 Clarkson even heaped praise for Dwight Ramos and Kai Sotto, who both also tallied reliable numbers in the contest.

“Dwight played well tonight as well, Kai played well. I think it’s a good effort. We had a chance to win the game,” he said of the B.League and NBL Australia Asian imports.

“I missed some shots towards the end of the game which I usually make. It was a tough one tonight. We just have to take it on the head and get back to the drawing board.”

Ramos finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and six steals, while Sotto made his presence felt with 10 points, eight boards, and two blocks — on top of altering a lot of shots inside the paint.

Head coach Chot Reyes’ wards will return to action on Monday against Saudi Arabia at home, a game Clarkson hopes to win in front of the Mall of Asia Arena crowd. It will be his first-ever official home game with the national team.

“We’re going head back to Manila, play Saudi Arabia, be prepared for that, and try to win at home.” photos

Levi Joshua Jr Verora

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