JAKARTA—Filipino-American guard Jordan Clarkson arrived at the Basket Hall in Gelora Bung Karno sports complex just in time to see the Philippines overwhelm Kazakhstan in their first game of the 2018 Asian Games on Thursday.
Upon landing at the airport, the Cleveland Cavalier guard immediately made his way to the Basket Hall, where his teammates were on their way to a straightforward 96-59 victory. Clarkson was greeted by an ovation from the Filipino crowd -- which included members of the PBA Board -- when he arrived midway through the third quarter of the game.
With Clarkson watching, the Philippines proceeded to outscore Kazakhstan, 35-16, in the fourth quarter; Paul Lee provided a glimpse of how explosive the team can be by putting up three three-pointers in the payoff frame.
“Really good,” Clarkson told reporters afterward, when asked of his impression of the team. “Fast, get up and down, shoot 3s.”
“A fun style of play,” he added.
The Philippines overwhelmed Kazakhstan right from the get-go, limiting their foes to just one field goal in the opening frame. They would go on to make 45% of their shots, including 12 of 39 three-pointers. On defense, they held Kazakhstan to just 18-of-60 shooting from the field.
Clarkson, who was one of three NBA players granted a “one-time exemption" by the league to play in the Asiad, got a preview of how Yeng Guiao ran the team when he joined the huddle before the final frame.
He will join the team in practice later so as to immediately familiarize himself with Guiao’s system before playing against China on August 21.
“I’m just gonna come here and get used to how they do things here,” said Clarkson. “At least we got four days of practice, and I can get used to it.”
Clarkson said he was “definitely relieved" to finally get the green light to play for the Philippines, after initially being barred by the NBA from suiting up in the quadrennial tournament. It was only on the eve of the Philippines’ first game that they finally got confirmation of Clarkson’s participation.
“We went back and forth so many times, saying I was gonna play, then I wasn’t gonna play,” he said. “Now, being able to participate is awesome.”
“I’m excited and ready for the games,” said Clarkson, who immediately sat with veteran Asi Taulava upon his arrival. “I’m very excited to know that I’m finally getting to do this, being able to play with my team for my country.”
“It’s definitely something that I’ve been looking forward to,” he added.
Thanks to their huge triumph against Kazakhstan, the Philippines is virtually assured to make it out of Group D and advance to the quarterfinals of the basketball competition. However, the team is still treating their upcoming game against China as a must-win.
“It's a big game. Every game is a big game. We try to win every game when we step on the floor. We just come here to compete and try to win,” said Clarkson.
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