Playing for one of the host countries, Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson will have his hands full as he tries to lead the Philippines in the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup that tips off this Friday (Manila time). Here’s a primer of what to expect from Clarkson and the rest of the team!
The former Sixth Man of the Year, though having Filipino blood, will be suiting up as the Philippines’ naturalized player for the tournament. This will officially be the third appearance of Clarkson with Gilas Pilipinas – with stints back in the 2018 Asian Games and the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.
But let’s highlight further his recent participation with the team in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers to have proper context. In two games Clarkson suited up, the Philippines came up a little bit short against Lebanon 85-81 and came back with a 84-46 beating versus Saudi Arabia. The 31-year old player had pretty solid averages of 25 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists on an impressive 63.5% true shooting percentage.
As efficient as it looks, the small sample size makes it hard to deduce the real impact of Clarkson in a longer format of competition. What’s clear is that Gilas will heavily rely on him to have the rock, either to create his own shots and use the defensive gravity he attracts to find the wide open guy.
In short, a heliocentric offense that revolves around Clarkson – probably a good way to gauge where his playmaking talent is (lol).
The road for Clarkson and the 40th ranked Philippines won’t be easy as they are slated to face tough opponents in Group A – composed of a KAT-led Dominican Republic, his fellow Jazz teammate Simone Fontecchio and Italy, and African powerhouse Angola. To qualify to the next round, getting two dubs should be the focus as the team aims to avenge their winless campaign back in the 2019 World Cup.
Another side mission that they should bear in mind is to finish as the best Asian squad in the World Cup. Achieving it will give them an outright spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics. And for Jazz fans, we’d be glad to see one of our players represent us on the biggest stage.
It took years of preparation for the host Philippines to stage this World Cup, and that included bringing Clarkson to don their national colors. For a basketball-loving country, his answer to the call is expected to draw a lot of excitement. Regardless of the result, it’s a guarantee that Filipinos and Jazz fans will be tuned in to this spectacle.
Stay tuned for more Clarkson/Philippines updates here!