It was the first home game for Jordan Clarkson with Gilas Pilipinas.
Clarkson put on a spectacular performance with the jammed crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena last August 29, as he put on a 38-point rout of Saudi Arabia in the ongoing FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The Utah Jazz NBA player towed Gilas Pilipinas to an 84-46 win. Channeling the form that won him NBA Sixth Man of the Year, Clarkson stood out with 23 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds as the Philippines kicked a sluggish start to climb its Asian Qualifiers record to an even 3-3.
The host lagged 11-14 after the maiden period prior Jordan Clarkson hatched with Dwight Ramos in the second quarter to help Gilas Pilipinas attain a double-digit lead before it settled with a 37-28 advantage in the halftime.
Approximately 20,000 fans – including the Philippine President Bongbong Marcos trooped the arena and Clarkson made sure they got what they paid for as they glared with an abundance of best bit reel plays, including a buzzer-beater from near half-court to end the opening quarter.
On a momentum that Clarkson put up, Gilas Pilipinas demolished the visitors 24-8 in the third quarter and made it on the way to the 38 point rout.
On the other hand, Kai Sotto backstopped Clarkson with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks.
Ramos had 19 points and 6 rebounds as the Philippines redeemed itself from its sorry 85-81 loss to Lebanon three days ago.
Clarkson shared, he felt the energy in the crowd and believed that the whole team had it.
“It is different playing at home, in front of your own people, and this arena is beautiful. I cannot wait to come back here again and play some more games.” Clarkson said.
Japeth Aguilar as well as Kiefer Ravena claimed 8 points apiece for the Filipinos, while Ray Parks and Calvin Oftana chipped in 6 points each in the unequal win that gave besieged head coach Chot Reyes some absolution.
Despite the energy and much love that the fans give out to the Gilas Pilipinas players, they never did miss to booed Reyes whenever his face showed on the screen.
It was predominantly louder when the Philippines trailed, but Coach Reyes made the necessary alterations in the second half where they outscored Saudi Arabia 47-18.
Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Abdel tally 9 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds to lead the Saudis, who fell to 1-5 and remained fifth place in Group E.
As the team shot a paltry 23% from the field despite having more shot tries (68-66) than the Philippines, none Saudi Arabia breached double figures.
Philippines 84 – Clarkson 23, Sotto 16, Ramos 9, Aguilar 8, K. Ravena 8, Parks 6, Oftana 6, T. Ravena 4, Thompson 2, Malonzo 2, Newsome 0, Adams 0.
Saudi Arabia 46 – Abdel Gabar 9, Kadi 9, Ma. Almarwani 9, Mo. Almarwani 8, Almuwallad 4, Belal 3, Mohammed 2, Abo Jalas 2, Alsager 0, Albargawi 0.
Quarters: 14-11, 37-28, 61-36, 84-46.