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Here’s how NBA star Jordan Clarkson performed in debut game with Gilas

by | Sports

Aug. 23, 18 | 2:42 pm

Before the much-awaited Gilas-China clash, I asked a friend of mine who had been an avid fan of basketball for most of his life if the Philippines stands a chance against the towers of China. He said: “Long shot, but we have Jordan Clarkson.”

Ever since the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced Clarkson’s addition to the team, all eyes have been on him. In his debut game with Gilas against China, Clarkson did not disappoint Filipino fans.

Right off the bat, I would give Clarkson a thumbs up for his performance which can be described as “balanced”. Here’s why.

Questions before the game

The late addition of the Filipino-American NBA star to the Gilas team had both pros and cons.

Many questioned if Clarkson would be able to easily adjust to coach Yeng Guiao’s system, play comfortably in a short preparation time with other local stars like Paul Lee, Stanley Pringle, and Christian Standhardinger, and play with ease despite the heavy pressure to deliver especially with his NBA background.

It is no question that Clarkson would help the Gilas team in so many ways. Known to be a skilled perimeter shooter, opponents will always have their eye on Clarkson, giving other Gilas players an opening to score.

With that in consideration, plus Clarkson’s ability to generate plays, if local players would be able to convert plays into scores, Gilas is expected to give China a run for their money.

However, Clarkson was visibly quiet and struggling during the first few minutes of the game, despite hitting an early floater. Arguably, this struggle, or quietness more so, was visible in portions of the first two quarters.

After a 5-0 Gilas lead at the start of the game, the first half was, in general, a letdown for Clarkson. Stats post-game show he was only able to convert one of his seven three point attempts and missed two of his three free throws.

By the end of first half, Clarkson had 12 points with the Gilas trailing China by 5, 36-31.

On a roll

The Gilas team should be commended for managing to keep the game close despite Clarkson’s lackluster performance. The NBA eventually got his game going, ending the first half with a three-pointer. Clarkson’s confidence spiked hitting three consecutive treys to tie the game at 55-all in the third quarter.

Comparing his performance from the first half, Clarkson scored 12 of his 16 points with a three-point conversion rate of 80 percent in the third quarter, proving his fans his perimeter shooting finesse. Clarkson was on a roll and unstoppable who could not be controlled, even with the towering players of China guarding him.

By the end of the third quarter, Clarkson scored 16 points of the Gilas’ 26-point performance in the third. Gilas was able to cut China’s lead to two, entering the fourth quarter at 59-57.

Final run (and slump) in the fourth

Clarkson, however, was hit by cramps and sat on the sidelines for the most of the crucial final minutes of the game. This was the time for the local players to deliver, and they did.

Even without Clarkson, the Gilas squad overhauled a double-digit lead and even scored a three-point lead against the Chinese team. Imagine Clarkson’s impact had he been present on court — fresh from a hot third quarter performance and geared with experience in clutch plays.

My gut would like to tell me that Clarkson’s presence on court would have made a huge difference, however, it would be unfair to discredit the stellar performance of the locals present on court.

By the final seconds of the game, a foul was called against Clarkson handing China the win with a free throw. The final hope lied on Paul Lee, who missed the final shot of the day.

The game ended in a two-point defeat, 82-80.

Clarkson’s final stats: 28 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

Balanced performance and good things moving forward

Reports state that Clarkson was visibly disappointed and did not speak to the media following the loss. An ESPN source said Clarkson told team manager Butch Antonio: “I’ll do better in the next game.”

If these words will come true, the Gilas team will be a hard team to go against. In Clarkson’s eyes may be dismay, in many fans and Filipinos, however, this game represented hope.

Balanced is a perfect word to describe Clarkson’s debut game with the Gilas. His post-game stats show that Clarkson performed well in both the offense and defense department. His offense overshadowed his play-making skills in this game but we know he has it inside. Clarkson’s 16-point blowout in the third rattled China’s defense, providing an opening for other shooters like Standhardinger and Pringle to score their own.

Given the short time for preparation, Clarkson was able to adjust to the system and get the groove of the other players’ games. Clarkson helped the Gilas squad from possible intimidation towards China, who had two NBA players in their squad as well.

Above anything, this game showed that it was not the “Jordan Clarkson Show” after all as the original Gilas players played their role well. Notable performers were Pringle, Lee, and most particularly Standhardinger. The top PBA pick has been steady in both offense and defense. In their last game against Kazakhstan, Standhardinger scored 15, against China, he had 18.

We are also excited to see Pringle in the next game, who like Standhardinger, had been steady. If Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin’s claims of Pringle being the “best point guard in Asia” holds true, Gilas will be a stronger team in the quarters.

It would not be an easy way though as they are expected to face another powerhouse in South Korea next.

OVERALL VERDICT ON CLARKSON’S DEBUT GAME: PASS

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 2.5 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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