WINLESS no more.
NBA “Sixth Man of the Year” awardee Jordan Clarkson provided the spark as host Philippines brought down Asian rival China, 96-75, to close out its campaign in the FIBA World Cup 2023 in style.
Clarkson scored 24 of his game-high 34 points in a game-changing 27-4 third-quarter run that broke the backs of the Chinese in front of a wildly-cheering home crowd at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Clarkson’s massive third-quarter explosion included five straight three-point bombs in a deadly two-minute span that caught the Chinese flat-footed and turned a close contest into a rout for the Filipinos.
Nothing but pride was at stake in the highly-emotional battle between two long-time Asian rivals already out of contention in the 32-team competition.
But the Clarkson-led Filipinos — bless their hearts — made sure to put up one brave fight to finally clinch a long-overdue victory and avoid the ignominy of becoming the first host nation to fail to win a single game since Colombia in 1982.
As expected, Clarkson led the way.
The 6-5 Utah Jazz star, who also finished with three assists, two rebounds and one steal oin 33 minutes of action, was only six points away from the FIBA World Cup 2023 scoring record.
Renz Abundo, Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos and June Mar Fajardo also shone for the Filipinos in their final game in the classification phase.
Abando added 14 points, Sotto contributed 12 points and six rebounds and Ramos had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Filipinis, who took control by outscoring the Chinese, 34-11, in the third quarter enroute to their first World Cup win since the 2014 edition when they beat Senegal in overtime.
Fajardo, the six-time PBA MVP, had nine points and four rebounds.
AJ Edu also had a strong game with five rebounds and 10 rebounds.
Kyle Anderson had a team-high 17 points and nine rebounds for China, which also closed out its campaign with 1-4 record.
Zhenlin Zhang and Mingxuan Hu added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Philippines dropped all its three assignments in the first round, losing to Dominican Republic (81-87), Angola (70-80) and and Italy (83-90 ) in the group stage; and South Sudan (68-87) in the classification phase.
China also went winless in the first round before beating Angola, 83-76,
Philippines (96) Clarkson 34, Abando 14, Sotto 12, Ramos 11, Fajardo 9, Pogoy 7, Edu 5, Thompson 4, Ravena 0, Aguilar 0.
China (75) – Li 17, Zhang 13, M. Hu 12, R. Zhao 12, J. Hu 10, Zhu 5, Cui 2, Fu 2, Zhou 2, J. Zhao 0.
Quarterscores: 16-16, 39-40, 73-51, 96-75.