May 23, 2024

Jordan Clarkson's fiery shooting tows Gilas Pilipinas past China in FIBA World Cup

Jordan Clarkson

Gilas Pilipinas won’t end the FIBA World Cup winless, after all.

With Jordan Clarkson leading the way, and everybody else chipping in, Gilas finally got that elusive win thanks to a fiery third quarter that saw the national team build a 23-point cushion on its way to a 96-75 victory against continental rival China on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Looking to end its FIBA World Cup campaign with a win, Gilas finally got off to a great start, opening the game with 7 unanswered points en route to a 10-2 advantage early in the first quarter. China, though, settled down just in time thanks to some timely buckets from Zhenlin Zhang. With Zhang taking over, Team Dragon outscored the Philippines 14-6 to tie the score at 16 to end the opening frame.

The second canto turned into a game of mini-runs, with the two teams trading spurts throughout the quarter that saw Gilas open up with a 10-4 run to grab a 26-20 lead. It was Team Dragon, though, that wound up finishing strong, uncorking a 7-2 windup to turn a 33-37 deficit to a 40-39 advantage heading into intermission.

Then, a certain Jordan Clarkson took over. No, he went bonkers. Absolutely bonkers.

Stepback deuce, swish. Driving layup, count it. Floater, nothing but the bottom of the net. Another layup? No problem. Then, Clarkson started bombing away from beyond, nailing triple after triple after triple—five in a row to be exact. And each triple sent the crowd into a frenzy, their cheers growing louder after every make.

Once Clarkson was done, Gilas was already up, 73-50, and in firm control.

Gilas cruised from that point on, doing plenty to keep the Chinese at bay and unable to build any sort of momentum to mount a comeback.

The Utah Jazz guard and 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year finished with a game-high 34 markers, 27 of which came in the third quarter alone. He shot 11-for-18 from the field overall in arguably his best, most efficient game in this tournament. Rhenz Abando also played his best game for Gilas, chipping in 14 points on top of 5 rebounds and 1 assist—along with his usual high-energy defense.

Li Kaier led the fight for Team Dragon with his 17 points to go along with 9 caroms and 4 dimes. Zhang added 13 markers, while Rui Zhao and Mingxuan Hu chipped in 12 apiece. 

With the win, Gilas now still has an outside chance of getting invited to the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.