Better Finish for PH Men’s Basketball
JAKARTA—Out of the medal running, the Philippines still put on a show as it ran roughshod over Syria, 109-55, to settle for fifth place in the 18th Asian Games men’s basketball competition at the Gelora Bung Karno Basketball Hall on Friday night.
As promised by coach Yeng Guiao, the Jordan Clarkson-powered nationals delivered an emphatic win against an overmatched foe to end their roller-coaster campaign here on a high.
A massive 38-point explosion right in the first quarter set the tone of the nationals’ utter dominance of the Syrians as the Filipinos came through with their highest finish in the games in 16 years and improved on the seventh place of an Andray Blatche-led Gilas Pilipinas during the 2014 Incheon Asiad.
They slowed down momentarily in the second period, but still led by a huge 26 points, 60-34 at the half.
The NBA star Clarkson was a beast with 29 points, 26 in the first half alone, highlighted by an alley-oop dunk off a Stanley Pringle assist as the nationals posted a 55-29 lead and kept building it as the game progressed.
Clarkson, who also had six assists and four rebounds, was pulled out by Guiao midway through the third period to a standing ovation from fans.
With the Fil-American watching from the sidelines, the nationals led by as many as 56 points at 109-53 on a layup by Gabe Norwood.
Clarkson, who was the Philippines’ flag-bearer during the opening ceremonies, has passed on the role to skateboarding gold medalist Margielyn Didal for the closing rites, as he was set to plane in back to the US to attend the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA pre-season camp.
“It’s an honor representing my country in the Asian Games,” said Clarkson. “This is an unforgettable experience for me.”
The hastily-formed national team, which had less than two weeks to prepare for the games, soared in its first game against Kazakhstan, stumbled in back-to-back losses to China and defending champion Korea, before venting all of its frustrations on Japan and Syria.
Clarkson played the last four of those games for the Rain or Shine-led Philippine team, but questions have been raised when he’ll ever don the national colors again.
“We want him to return and play for us again as a member of our national team,” Guiao said, “But there are some things to be considered, like schedules and the NBA.”
Philippines (109) — Clarkson 29, Standhardinger 27, Taulava 11, Pringle 10, Yap 9, Belga 6, Tiu 5, Erram 5, Ahanmisi 3, Dalistan 2, Norwood 2, Almazan 0.
Syria (55) — Aljabi 23, Bakar 9, Saddir 6, Alhamwi 6, Al Ghamian 6, Kasaballi 2, Al Osh 2, Khouri 0, Idelbi 0
Quarters: 38-16; 60-34; 91-44; 109-55