Clarkson catches fire in Philippines triumph

ALTHOUGH the game was a dead rubber of sorts, the Philippines’ win over China in the classification round of the 2023 FIBA World Cup on the weekend.

Neither side qualified for the second round of the tournament after going winless in their respective groups. However, Olympic classification and final seeding for the World Cup still applied in these matches, so there was still a bit to play for.

The Philippines also had home court advantage as co-hosts of the tournament, and would have loved to get the win in front of their fans, who were as vocal as ever in the team’s final match.

It was a close start to the game, with both teams showcasing the same struggles that haunted them throughout the first round. However, the third quarter was the most decisive period of the match, as the home side broke away with a dominant patch of play. It proved to be the difference as the Philippines cruised home to a 21-point win.

Jordan Clarkson was the most important factor in the match, exploding in the vital third quarter with as good an individual performance as anyone has produced throughout the tournament.

Philippines (96) def. China (75)

Jordan Clarkson – 34 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal

Clarkson was an immense presence in the context of the match, producing a third quarter that needed to be seen to be believed.

Of his 34 points (a game-high total), 24 came in the third quarter, which proved to be the match-winning period. He hit a buzzer-beating mid-range to close out the first half and keep his side within one point at the main break.

After struggling a bit from the field (not only in the first half, but in the tournament as a whole), Clarkson went on a serious heater in a four-minute stretch that was simply superb.

Over the span of just 240 seconds, Clarkson delivered 20 points in a masterclass in scoring. Whether he pulled up from the elbow and knocked down a mid-range, or drove into the lane and finished through contact, Clarkson was suddenly on fire, and China had no answers.

Throughout his time in the NBA, Clarkson has become known for his ability to get hot from behind the arc, and that was precisely the case against China. The guard was unstoppable from downtown, knocking down triple after triple, leading the charge as his side outscored the opposition 27-3, essentially sealing the win.

He also assisted on three baskets, playing with pace that created a good look for either himself or his teammates.

Clarkson will be 35 at the next World Cup, but seemingly still has the skill to return at that level, producing one of his best international performances to close out the classification round.

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