After the conclusion of the preliminary rounds of the FIBA World Cup, both Finland (Markkanen) and the Philippines (Clarkson) failed to advance in the next stage of the competition. It came as disappointments, with the host nation going listless and Markkanen was unable to follow up their impressive Eurobasket stint.
Firstly, for Gilas Pilipinas, there were multiple chances that they could’ve gotten a breakthrough win. Against the Dominican Republic, the game was not decided until Clarkson fouled out late in the fourth quarter. They also came up short in their next two assignments, losing to Angola and Italy respectively.
In those three games, Clarkson had a tough time scoring – having to carry the offense while dealing with a rough spacing provided by his teammates. He had averages of 24 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6.7 assists on 36.4/14.3/91.3 shooting splits (47.3 true shooting percentage). It’s definitely not impressive – where we can attribute this to some bad shooting and team context.
On the other hand, Finland encountered the same fate of being unable to aid Markkanen on the offensive side. And the results weren’t pretty, as they received beatings versus Australia and Germany. But the icing on the cake was their defeat to Japan, where they blew a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter.
As for Markkanen, tighter defensive schemes were thrown at him that made every look he had hard and contested. His numbers indeed reflected the disruptive defense Markkanen faced, with his efficiency flunked down to a 41% field goal shooting and a lowly 15% from deep in the group phase.
Both nations’ stint with the World Cup isn’t over though, as they are relegated to the classification round to determine their respective places for the tournament. Another wrinkle to also look at is to avoid a bottom five finish in order to secure a ticket to the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) – to have a chance to play in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
For Finland, Markkanen and the Wolf Pack were able to capture their first win against Cape Verde – thanks to the 34-point outing of Markkanen. While the Gilas Pilipinas continue their losing ways, suffering an 87-68 defeat at the hands of South Sudan. There will be one last game for each country as they look to cap off their World Cup campaign on a high note.
Obviously, it wasn’t the desired end goal for the two members of the Utah Jazz to have an early exit. However, what transpired in these games are worth bookmarking to see the roles Markkanen and Clarkson had with their respective teams. Watch out as we try to break down the performances they had in the World Cup!