JORDAN Clarkson makes his debut playing in front of the hometown crowd and the NBA star from the Utah Jazz is determined to win it in presence of the basketball-loving Filipinos.

On Monday night, our Philippine men' s basketball team plays its second game in the fourth window, hoping to salvage a victory that could somehow uplift the morale of this practically new group put together as part of its build up for next year's World Cup.

Jordan Clarkson FIBA PHOTO
Jordan Clarkson FIBA PHOTO

Clarkson plays his first game in the country — and the last this year — before he heads back to the United States and play in the NBA's regular season.

He'll be back next year, six weeks before the start of the World Cup, as he has committed to play for the Philippine men's basketball team in the globe's biggest basketball event.

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Gilas Pilipinas is hoping to bank on the promise this newly-assembled team brings as it gives fans a sneak preview of what Pinoy hoop fans expect for next year's World Cup with Clarkson and 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto leading the way.

But Gilas Pilipinas wants to concentrate on what's in front of them and that's the team of Saudi Arabia.

The Philippines has the size, manpower and skill-set advantage against the Saudis, making the Filipinos a heavy favorite in their 7 p.m. encounter at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Head coach Chot Reyes being assisted by two other multi-titled coaches in the PBA — Tim Cone and Jong Uichico — is likely to use this as an opportunity as well to see how this new group plays together more as a team so he can make an early evaluation on who among these players can be included for the long stretch, including the remaining window of the World Cup Asian Qualifiers, and the other major tournaments leading to next year's World Cup.

From the PBA's side, Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra, had proven himself to be a great complement for Sotto.

With Sotto being joined by an athletic 6-foot-9 veteran center/forward in Aguilar, it provides the Philippines two rim protectors that are essential in the international game.

From among the Pinoy players seeing action in the Japan B.League, it was Dwight Ramos who stood out.

Ramos, a 6-foot-4 player included in the Gilas program then headed by Tab Baldwin two years ago, showed his steadiness playing both guard spots.

He's been a solid presence on both ends of the floor and in the Philippines' close encounter loss to Lebanon, he was a force to reckon with among the guards.

Clarkson took care of the scoring, leading the way with 27 points, seven assists and six rebounds, but Ramos was the most efficient among the Gilas players.

Ramos had a +26 in efficiency rating, better than Clarkson, and came away with 18 points and 10 rebounds. His double-double effort was even complemented by six steals, proving that he can dominate on both ends of the court.

Game Monday (MOA Arena)

7 p.m. – Philippines vs Saudi Arabia