How did the Jordan Clarkson led Gilas Pilipinas lose to Lebanon?

The Men’s National team of the Philippines or Gilas Pilipinas had a very close match against one of the most surprising Asian teams, Lebanon. Two big names, Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto spearhead the Philippines against the Lebanese National team which had the current FIBA Asia MVP, Wael Arakji. Although the Gilas Pilipinas had a star-studded cast, they still fell to Arakji and Lebanon by just 4 points, 85-81. Even with a former NBA 6th man of the year (Clarkson), a behemoth young center (Sotto), and some talented young stars, how did the Philippines lose this game?

Kai Sotto and Jordan Clarkson Gilas
Kai Sotto and Jordan Clarkson Gilas
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After going undrafted in the NBA, Kai Sotto returns to his spot in the Adelaide 36ers in the NBL. He and his camp agreed to play for his country’s team in FIBA alongside his fellow countrymen. Kai Sotto arrived in Manila, Philippines last Thursday, August 18. Meanwhile, Jordan Clarkson, a guard from Utah Jazz landed on Philippine soil the day after (August 19).

How Gilas Pilipinas Lost to Lebanon

Homecourt advantage

More often than not, the team who plays on their homecourt will always take advantage of their opponents. First, they control the fans and the crowd. Second, they have a better feel of the floor. Usually, home teams will win any matchup and the game between the Philippines and Lebanon certainly proved it.

Philippines lacked reinforcement in the paint area

Due to a conflict of schedule in the Philippine Basketball Association Finals games and the 4th window in the FIBA Asia World Cup qualifiers, the 6-foot-10 center Junemar Fajardo was not able to join the Gilas Pilipinas squad. Aside from Kai Sotto (7’3”) and Japeth Aguilar (6’9”), nobody else from their team could handle the big men of Lebanon. Although the two amazingly held the fort, it still wasn’t enough.

Teams That Could Pick Kai Sotto (2022 NBA Draft)

Though that was the case, the Philippines still outrebounded Lebanon (48-36) where Kai Sotto played a big part.

Related: Kai Sotto and Jordan Clarkson possibly joining Gilas Pilipinas

Short preparation time

Considering that the Gilas Pilipinas roster continues to refresh now and then, plus the arrival of two reinforcements (Kai Sotto and Jordan Clarkson), this team only had a week to practice together. In contrast to Lebanon which had been playing with each other for almost 3 years now, the chemistry between the Filipino basketball stars isn’t still solid.

Top that with controversial statements from their head coach, Chot Reyes, who said earlier that Gilas Pilipinas does not need to win their bout against Lebanon, the team was already in for a bumpy ride.

“We really don’t need to win the game against Lebanon. It’s going to be good for PR, it’s going to be good with my haters, but for the whole team objective, it’s not necessary,” Reyes said.

Roosevelt Adams got cut from the final list. Was it a major factor?

Some people are already questioning why the Filipino-American from the University of Idaho, Roosevelt Adams, was cut from the 12-man lineup of Gilas Pilipinas. Adams, who went undrafted in the NBA, proceeded to play in the Philippines (PBA) and was considered a top draft pick. He had a desire to play for the national team, but after deliberation, Adams was not included in the final lineup.

In perspective, Adams could have become a huge threat on both ends of the floor. As a 6’6” small forward, Roosevelt Adams proved to be a solid scorer and rebounder. But, could he have translated his level of play on the international stage? Unfortunately, that would remain a question.

Overall, the game could have gone either way. Judging by how Gilas Pilipinas played, they could have beaten Lebanon if not for the circumstances mentioned above.

It was a match nobody thought would be this close. With only a very short amount of time to practice and get to know each other, the team still played fantastically. Moreover, Gilas Pilipinas showed passion and talent by almost beating Lebanon in their own country. Currently, the Philippines have a 2-2 record in Group A of FIBA World Cup qualifiers. They are also ranked 34th in worldwide rankings in FIBA.

Despite the loss, Gilas Pilipinas exceeded expectations in their battle against Lebanon.

Of course, the 2021 NBA 6th man of the year would show up in this game by tallying 27 huge points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. On the other hand, the Kaiju (Kai Sotto) was a monster down below with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Finally, the fan favorite Dwight Ramos delivered once again by putting up 18 points, 10 boards, and stealing the ball from his opponents 6 times.

Meanwhile, the winning team was led by no other than the current MVP, Wael Arakji, who had 24 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists. He was heavily supported by Amir Saoud with 17 points while also putting up 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Philippines’ next matchup will be against Saudi Arabia on August 29, 2022. The game will be hosted by Gilas Pilipinas in the Philippines.

Can Gilas Pilipinas assert dominance in their next game against Saudi Arabia? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. For more content, stay with us, here at Spiel Times.

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