JAKARTA, Indonesia – The national team isn’t expecting Jordan Clarkson of the Cleveland Cavaliers to see action when it plays Kazakhstan for its crucial first game Thursday in the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games here.
Despite that, national team mentor Yeng Guiao isn’t too worried.
“We feel we have a pretty good game plan against Kazakhstan, we feel we are ready,” said Guiao after conducting a practice session at the Gor Lokasari gym Wednesday.
“The coaching staff has done an excellent job scouting, doing the preparation and doing the mind-setting of the players, and every body is just making a contribution to the effort,” added Guiao.
The game between the Rain or Shine-backed Philippines and Kazakhstan is scheduled at 10 p.m. (11 a.m. Manila time).
The 6-foot-5 Clarkson, given the green light by the NBA to play in the Asian Games, is set to arrive here via Singapore about the same time Philippines and Kazakhstan are playing.
According to Guiao, it’s unfair for Clarkson to play right away after a long flight from Los Angeles.
Although the national team had little time to prepare for this tournament, Guiao expressed confidence of how the team has improved particularly with the players understanding the system.
“Although with the time that we spent together, we’ve made a lot of progress,” said Guiao. “Our team is jelling, the camaraderie is really good and they’re absorbing the system really well. That’s the good news.”
The match up between the two teams is a virtual do-or-die since the losing team face a must-win against China for their next game in Group D action to be able to advance in the next round where only two squads will advance.
The national team meets China on August 21.
The last time the Philippines and Kazakhstan clashed was also in an Asian Games competition back in 2014 in Incheon, South Korea. The national team won 67-65, but it was the Kazakhs that advanced to the knockout stage.
In the Bangkok Asian Games in 1998, the Centennial Team of coach Tim Cone salvaged a bronze medal finish following a 73-68 victory opposite Kazakhstan, but four years later in the 2002 Busan meet, Philippines dropped a 68-66 setback to Kazakhstan in the bronze medal match.
Guaio has his former ROS core of Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, Chris Tiu, Maverick Ahanmisi, Beau Belga and Paul Lee, who is now with Magnolia, as well as former two-time PBA MVP James Yap.
Other members of the national team are NLEX’s Asi Taulava, Stanley Pringle of GlobalPort, San Miguel Beer’s Christian Standhardinger and Blackwater’s John Paul Erram.