Philippine team faces Lebanon at the FIBA World Cup 2022 Asian Qualifiers

Aug 28, 2022

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LEBANON denied Jordan Clarkson a win in his FIBA debut as it eked out an 85-81 victory over Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Wocrld Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut.

The NBA star churned out 27 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds, but the Filipinos fizzled out down the stretch and allowed Wael Arakji to take the Lebanese home with his endgame heroics.

Arakji, the reigning FIBA Asia Cup MVP, powered the Cedars with 24 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists.

In a very timely response, an effort to get back on track in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas has called in the cavalry. 

Jordan Clarkson, a Utah Jazz player, and NBA hopeful Kai Sotto will be in attendance when the Philippines take on Lebanon in Beirut to open the fourth window on Thursday, August 25. (Friday, August 26, Manila time). 

High hopes are placed on the Filipino-American NBA star who will make his national team debut in a FIBA match after becoming a naturalized player. 

The last time Clarkson played for the Philippines was during the 2018 Asian Games, where he led the squad to a fifth-place finish with averages of 26 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists.

In the meantime, Sotto, who just finished his rookie season with the Adelaide 36ers of the National Basketball League in Australia, is back on national team duty and eager to show off his substantially improved skill set. 

In his first five games with Gilas Pilipinas, the 7-foot-3 big man averaged 9.2 points and 6 rebounds, but Sotto will be counted on to put up better numbers against a tough Lebanese team that took home silver at the FIBA Asia Cup. 

Led by Wael Arakji, Lebanon won the Asia Cup group stage match against the Philippines and advanced to the final, where it was defeated by Australia, the incumbent champion, by just two points.

As the recently crowned “Best Point Guard in Asia,” Arakji presents a significant challenge to the Filipinos. He won the Asia Cup MVP award with averages of 26 points, 4 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. 

The Philippines should keep an eye out for other players as well, including Lebanon’s Ali Haidar and naturalized big man Jonathan Arledge. 

Jordan Clarkson, an NBA player, gave Gilas Pilipinas its finest performance in months, but Lebanon ultimately won the match. 

In the World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Thursday, August 25, in Beirut, the Lebanese relied on Wael Arakji late to scrape out an 85-81 victory, ruining Clarkson’s hot FIBA start (Friday, August 26, Manila time). 

The star of the Utah Jazz scored 27 points, handed out 7 assists, and grabbed 6 rebounds, but Arakji, the current FIBA Asia Cup MVP, carried the Cedars to victory in the closing seconds.

At the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex, Arakji finished with 24 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. He capped his outstanding effort with a personal 7-0 run in the waning seconds to help Lebanon defend its home court. 

Japeth Aguilar tied the score at 78 to 78 with three free throws before Arakji scored seven straight points, including a crucial three pointer.

The Filipinos were able to stay up with the strong Lebanese team that previously won silver in the Asia Cup, but their failure to safeguard the ball ultimately proved to be their downfall. 

Gilas Pilipinas had a hot 9-2 start and even had a 10-point lead, but they finished the game with 21 errors, which Lebanon took advantage of for 22 points.

Scores at the end of the match

Lebanon with 85

Individual scores – Arakji 24, Saoud 17, Haidar 10, Gyokchyan 9, Zeinoun 7, Arledge 6, Chamoun 3, Ezzedine 3, Mansour 3, Mezher 3

Philippines with 81

Individual scores – Clarkson 27, Ramos 18, Aguilar 11, Sotto 10, Thompson 4,  Newsome 3,  Malonzo 3, K. Ravena 3, T. Ravena 2, Parks 0, Tamayo 0, Oftana 0

Scores per quarter

22-25, 49-47, 68-63, 85-81

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