Gilas Pilipinas sinks Saudi

Photo by Rio Deluvio

Jordan Clarkson avenged the sorry loss to Lebanon a few nights back as Gilas Pilipinas hammered a masterful 84-46 win over Saudi Arabia in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Monday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Armed with homecourt advantage, Clarkson gave the 19,829 Filipino fans in attendance a treat, finishing with 23 points, six assists and five rebounds in his first-ever game on home soil.

Kai Sotto also displayed his might inside the paint and registered a double-double game of 16 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.

Clarkson said their 38-point win did not just give them a huge morale booster, but also showed them a glimpse of what Gilas can do heading into the FIBA World Cup next year.

It was a major confidence-booster for the Filipinos, who have improved their record to an even 3-3 record behind New Zealand and Lebanon in Group E.

“It feels great. Just trying to figure out real quick and build it what we want it to look like for the World Cup,” Clarkson said.

“I know Filipinos got my back and I got their back as well. We’re getting something here, we’re building something special.”

Scoring only 11 points in the opening frame, the Filipino cagers bucked their slow start as Clarkson hit 17 points to gain a 37-28 lead at the intermission.

The visiting Saudis began to struggle on their offense and were limited to only eight points in the entire third, highlighted by Ray Parks and Clarkson’s back-to-back triples that made it a 59-36 affair.

The energized Gilas never looked back as Calvin Oftana nailed a jumper that mounted their biggest lead at 40, 84-44, entirely crushing Saudi’s spirit with 1:10 left to play.

The Philippines’ defense stood out as no Arabian player finished in double digits. Mathna Almarwani and Khalid Gabar came closest with nine points apiece.

The scores:

PHILIPPINES (84) — Clarkson 23, Sotto 16, Ramos 9, K. Ravena 8, Aguilar 8, Oftana 6, Parks 6, T. Ravena 4, Thompson 2, Malonzo 2, Adams 0, Newsome 0.

SAUDI ARABIA (46) — Abdel Gabar 9, M Kadi 9, Ma. Almarwani 9, Mo. Almarwani 8, Almulwallad 4, Belal 3, Jalas 2, A Mohammed 2.

QUARTERS: 11-14, 37-28, 61-36, 84-46.

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