Gilas Pilipinas ended its agony and notched a cherished breakthrough triumph to mark its last bow in the 2023 FIBA World Cup before its passionate home crowd.
With pride and honor at stake despite being already out of contention, the Philippines unleashed a scorching third-quarter barrage to trample Asian rival China, 96-75, for a graceful swan song in FIBAWC23 Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jordan Clarkson put on a show, sizzling hot for 24 points in the third quarter alone including fourth straight triples as Gilas dodged a winless campaign at home much to the delight of the jampacked Filipino crowd.
The Philippines finished at 1-4 after tough losses against Dominican Republic, 87-81, Angola, 80-70 and Italy, 90-83, before bowing to South Sudan, which became the top African country for a historic Paris Olympic ticket in the classification round, 87-68.
The former NBA Sixth Man of the Year from the Utah Jazz finished with 34 points on 5-of-10 shooting from downtown to go along with two rebounds, three assists and a block in 33 minutes of play.
Gilas, in dire need of a flickering hope amidst a winless campaign that disappointed the fans, looked headed to another foiled bid as it stared at 39-44 deficit early in the third quarter.
Then, Clarkson took matters into his own hands.