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    Clarkson keeps faith in Team Pilipinas: 'Play free and go get a win'

    Jan 30, 2019
    PHOTO: AP
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    CHICAGO - As his Cleveland Cavaliers team wade through the muck of a 10-41 season, Jordan Clarkson understands the heartache and frustration that goes through the process.

    Which is probably why he had a knowing and sympathetic look when I mentioned to him the ongoing struggles of Gilas Pilipinas, which needs to win its last two assignments to have a chance at participating in the 2019 Fiba World Cup.

    Any advice? I asked Clarkson moments after he scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds and doled out six assists in Cleveland's 104-101 upset over the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time).

    "Yeah.Just go out there, play free and go get a win. That's it," he said.

    Having seen what the field now looks like after finally suiting up for Gilas in the 2018 Asian Games last August, I asked Jordan if our national team needs a more bigs or more athletic wings such as himself.

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    "Another big is always good," he said. "Remember when we played China? They had some bigs we had to wrestle with. But I think we have a good team, especially if (Andre) Blatche is playing and stuff like that. I think we have a good chance of doing some things."

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    The road ahead is really tough but I have faith in both Yang Guiao and the fighting heart of the Filipino.

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    JC IS EN FUEGO. After a stellar all-around effort that earned him rave reviews in Chicago two days ago, Jordan Clarkson put up another show on Tuesday, this time at The Q Arena in Cleveland where he helped the Cavaliers beat the Washington Wizards, 116-113.

    The 6-foot-5, 194-pound Clarkson was efficient as a Roomba vacuum cleaner, dusting the visiting Wizards for 28 points in 29 minutes of play. Clarkson canned 10-of-15 field goals, including 6-of-8 from 3-point range. He also made 2-of-4 free throws while pocketing five rebounds and two dimes.

    It was the Cavaliers' first winning streak in more than 60 days and only their 11th victory in 52 starts. Like their other rare victories, this one had its moments.

    In front of a soldout home crowd of 19, 432, the Cavaliers were headed to what appeared to be an easy triumph when they took an 88-69 advantage after three quarters. But the Wizards, led by Bradley Beal's 31 points, came roaring back with 44 fourth-quarter points.

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    But Jordan came to the rescue with 13 points in the payoff period to help hold off the Wiz.

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      BEARD RUN. James Harden's streak of scoring at least 30 points is now up to 24 after he scored 37 points in a Tuesday night loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, 121-116, at the Toyota Center.

      Thirty-seven points in an NBA game usually makes my blood boil with excitement, but Harden's latest fare is the exact opposite of artistic beauty. He made only 11 of 32 field goals and just six of 18 triples. He did have 11 boards and six dimes but he coughed up five turnovers.

      The real story here is why on earth did the Rockets lose at home against the Pelicans, who did not play Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, E'Tuan Moore and Elfrid Payton?

      Because these Rockets, as already emphasized here ad nauseam, cant' play defense, They made the Pelicans look like the Warriors, shooting 51 percent from the field (46-of-90) while dominating the boards 55-45.

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      I don't get it why so many people are raving so much about Harden's streak. It really is nothing more than just window dressing.

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      PHOTO: AP
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