Fil-Am Kihei Clark stars as Virginia holds off Oregon to reach Elite 8
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 29, 2019 04:54 PM
Kihei Clark won the NBTC All-Star Game MVP award March 23, 2018. A year later, he showed the world what he can do in a much bigger stage. (File Photo)
A year after introducing himself to the Filipino audience in the 2018 National Basketball Training Center All-Star Game by earning MVP honors, Filipino-American guard Kihei Clark stepped up anew, this time in the US NCAA Tournament.
Congrats to 🇵🇭 🇺🇸 @ClarkKihei who hit some big shots and closing FTs to send Virginia to the Elite Eight of @marchmadness ! He was awesome at the @SM_Nbtc last year in Manila! pic.twitter.com/V6GG2gZCtm— TJ Manotoc (@tjmanotoc) March 29, 2019
Clark made big buckets down the stretch as the no. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers held off 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks, 53-49, to advance to the NCAA Elite 8, Friday afternoon (PHL time).
The 5'9" rookie split his free throws in the dying seconds to bring the Cavalers to the next round after drilling a crucial three-pointer with five minutes left in the second half.
The Woodland Hills, California-native finished with 12 points, six assists, and four boards to complete his heroic outing for the no.1-ranked squad in the Southern bracket.
UVA coach Tony Bennet was all praise for the freshman guard for stepping up after norming just 4.5 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.3 rebounds in the season.
Listen to Coach Bennett praise his freshman Fil-Am point guard’s poise down the stretch for the win!— TJ Manotoc (@tjmanotoc) March 29, 2019
Way to go @ClarkKihei !@SM_Nbtc @filamsportsusa @abscbnsports
In two years we could see @JalenRomande making waves in @marchmadness too!#MarchMadness2019 https://t.co/qZyNlxPYkJ
"Kihei did a heck of a job, tied it. It wasn't a masterpiece, but as the saying goes, survive and advance and we survived," Bennett said.
Oregon battled back from down eight points at the break, and outscored Virginia through the second half, but was eventually held off by the Cavaliers' timely plays.
With the win, Virginia set a quarterfinals clash against Purdue, who outlasted Tennessee in overtime, 99-94 a couple of days earlier.
"We guarded hard enough, made enough plays, again we're gonna have to clean it up the way Purdue played, but very thankful and we're advancing," Bennett said.