JAKARTA—Jordan Clarkson on Sunday downplayed the pressure that comes with playing against powerhouse China, insisting that the Philippines will treat the much-anticipated contest “like it’s any other game.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers guard will make his debut for the Philippines against the Chinese on Tuesday, in what will be the Filipinos’ second game of the 2018 Asian Games. The “Gilastopainters,” as they are called, are already through to the quarterfinals but are determined to beat China so as to gain a better seeding.
“Compete, step on the floor, treat it like it’s any other game,” Clarkson said simply when asked for his thoughts on China during a press conference at the Ritz Carlton this city on Sunday night.
“We can't say it's China, we can't say it's anybody across from us. We gotta worry about ourselves and go out there and execute our game plan, do what coach tells us to do, move the ball, score, play fast, and that's it,” he added.
China, which placed fifth in the 2014 Asian Games, will be bolstered by two NBA players of its own in Houston’s Zhou Qi and Dallas’ Ding Yanyuang. Philippines coach Yeng Guiao knows that even with Clarkson in their lineup, Zhou and co. remain favored to win.
However, he believes that Clarkson gives the Filipinos a slightly better chance of pulling off the upset.
“Dati, para talagang wala kang chance na manalo sa kanila,” said Guiao of China.
“What’s good for us is he can draw the defense and free up our shooters. His skills are very good, all of these combined translates to a quicker transition for him to make adjustments. So it's going to be two against one, Clarkson versus the two NBA Chinese players,” Guiao said of Clarkson.
Clarkson makes it clear, however, that it will not be the Jordan Show on Tuesday against China.
“You say all eyes, they’re gonna be on me, but I don’t think so,” he said, instead pointing out that his teammates are all capable of keeping up with the talented Chinese players.
“We got a team full of players that are ready to come out there and compete. I feel like the guys are ready,” said Clarkson, who has spent the past three days familiarizing himself with Guiao’s system and building chemistry with his teammates.
“I think we have a solid group that really complements each other. So in terms of eyes being on me, we all together in this.”
Having had the chance to watch his teammates in their first game of the competition -- a 96-59 rout of Kazakhstan -- Clarkson is confident that he will have plenty of help against China.
“What they did in that first game was amazing. I really see the talent level of the team,” he said.
“I feel like we got enough talent, we got enough guys that have the spirit, have heart,” he added. “We'll go out and compete and really play and win a medal.”
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