Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Jordan Clarkson has one more game remaining with the Philippine team before refocusing on the Utah Jazz for the 2023-24 NBA season, which begins on October 24.
Clarkson is still searching for his first victory in Manila in the 2023 FIBA Global Cup. Still, he is happy to see his Utah Jazz teammates excel in the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia global basketball championships.
After the group stage play on Tuesday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Clarkson took on Italian counterpart Simone Fontecchio of the Jazz.
To advance, Gilas needed to defeat No. 10 in the world, Italy, by at least 12 points.
The Italians won 90-83 after the 6-foot-7 Fontecchio caught fire from the three-point line in the second quarter, and the rest of Team Azzurri made a total of 17 three-pointers.
After the game, Clarkson was ecstatic about Fontecchio’s performance, praising his 18 points, three three-pointers, and six rebounds. Fontecchio led Italy in scoring with 18 points.
Clarkson attempted to help Gilas Pilipinas against Italy by scoring 23 points, collecting seven rebounds, and dishing out six assists. However, his all-around effort yielded no results as the Philippines concluded Group A’s three games winless.
“Italy is fortunate to have Simone, a wonderful competitor and gentleman. The 31-year-old Clarkson remarked of his Italian teammate, “He’s a genuinely good guy.”
Clarkson, the 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, added that he is not astonished by the scoring prowess of his Italian shooter.
“Simone is a very good player; he’s been extremely cool and played on the same team last year, so he knows what he’s doing. Clarkson stated, “He shoots the ball fairly well, is strong, and is large.”
I’m pleased to see him prospering in these games and delivering a solid performance to start the season.
Clarkson believes Fontecchio’s participation in the FIBA World Cup will enhance his performance in the upcoming NBA season.
Lauri Markkanen of Finland, Kelly Olynyk of Canada, and Walker Kessler of the United States are the other Utah Jazz participants in the FIBA World Cup.
Clarkson stated, “When all of us get together at Utah, me, Lauri, and everyone playing (here), hopefully we can string together a strong season.”
Markkanen averages 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per World Cup contest. Olynyk averages 15 points, six rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. On the other hand, Kessler is playing limited minutes as Jaren Jackson Jr. and Bobby Portis Jr.’s backup center, but he leads the team in blocks per game with 1.7.
Utah should have qualified for the 2022-23 NBA Playoffs after posting a subpar 37-45 regular season record.
The Jazz, however, strengthened their roster by acquiring forward John Collins from the Atlanta Hawks in a trade during the offseason.
Clarkson aims to lead Gilas Pilipinas to victories in the classification phase and improve the team’s prospects of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.