FIBA Dominican Republic is ready for Team Philippines. Screengrab from FIBA Media YouTube channel

Clarkson, fan support are Dominican Republic’s biggest  worries

August 25, 2023 Robert Andaya 286 views

FORMER NBA Sixth “Man of the Year” winner Jordan Clarkson and the near-fanatical home crowd are two of the major concerns of  the Dominican Republic heading into their all-important showdown against host Philippines in the FIBA World Cup 2023 at the Philippine Arena.

Dominican Republic coach Nestor Garcia and veteran Eloy Garcia said  Clarkson, the 6-5 Filipino-American guard of the Utah Jazz, will be the focus of attention during their 8 p.m. match in Group A.

“We  all know Clarkson is a very good player. He’s really, really dangerous. He produced a lot of good things, so  we have to be really ready for him,” said Garcia during the team’s introductory press conference at the  Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Vargas echoed Garcia’s observation, saying  he played with Clarkson  for the LA D-Fenders in the G-League in 2014.

“Me and Jordan played together back in 2014 for the Lakers in the G-League, so we really know each other. I know him very well,” said Vargas , a 6-10 center who played college ball at the University of Kentucky in 2012.

“I know he’s a good shooter, very athletic and fast. But I’m confident our guys can do a good job on him.” added Vargas, who also played for the New York Knicks in the 2013 NBA Summer League.

Both Garcia and Vargas stressed the Karl Anthony Towns-led Dominican Republic is also prepared for the  pro-Filipino crowd.

“I know this country loves basketball and they support the national team a lot. But everything is about concentration. We are focused, because when you are focused, you can win anywhere,” said Garcia.

“For us, it’s an extra motivation to play with the crowd, against a lot of fans, against a good team.”

Vargas said he is very happy to represent his country in the World Cup.

“Well, where we come from, we come from nothing. We just play basketball with freinds. So it’s great for us to come here and represent our country in front of thousands of people,” explained Vargas.

The Philippines and Dominican Republic are bunched with world No. 10 Italy and world No. 42 Angola in Group A.

The  main goal is to win two of three games  in the first round to advance to the  second round.

If they both make it to the second round, the teams will  join  the top two  qualifiers from Group B to dispute a seat to the quarterfinals.

Eliminated teams will  be relegated to the   17th to 32nd classification phase.

The FIBA World Cup 2023, which is also being co-hosted  by Japan and Indonesia, will run from August 25-Sept 10.

It  will also award  Paris Olympic seats to the two  teams of the Americas and Europe and the No. 1 finisher of  Asia Africa and Oceania.

Host France has already been seeded to the Games.

Four more slots to Paris. will be at stake in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.