NATURALIZED player Anthony Clemmons is a major concern for Team Pilipinas when it plays Kazakhstan in its make-or-break final game in the Fiba World Cup qualifiers on Sunday night (Manila time).
US-born Clemmons exploded for 31 points on 4-of-8 shooting from three-point range in the Kazakhs’ 81-60 loss to Australia at the Saryarka Velodrome in Astana on Thursday night.
While the loss all but ended Kazakhstan’s hope of qualifying to this year’s Fiba World Cup in China, the Philippine coaching staff isn’t about to dismiss the damage the 24-year-old Clemmons out of Lansing, Michigan can do against the Filipinos in their rematch.
“Isang concern namin is Clemmons 'yung bago nilang player, their other naturalized player. So siya yung isang tinuunan namin ng pansin,” said Team Pilipinas deputy Sandy Arespacochaga in an interview with Sports Radio’s Aaron Bayato from Kazakhstan.
“Definitely sa pagdagdag ni Clemmons medyo may pagkakaiba na sa laro nila (Kazakhs). He is a very good scoring guard, he can play the point and shooting guard positions, magaling siya sa pick and roll and sa ball screen. He can score from the three-point area, may mid-range pull up din. So medyo ibang dimension ang nadagdag niya.”
The 6-1 Clemmons, out of Iowa, wasn’t around when Kazakhstan stunned Team Pilipinas, 92-88, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Nov. 30 last year.
Arespacochaga and fellow assistant Ford Arao didn’t join the Filipinos in their game against Qatar in Doha as the duo went straight to Kazakhstan to specifically scout the host team.
A good defensive scheme is what Team Pilipinas need to pull this one off and boost its chance of making it back to the World Cup, he said.
“Kazakhstan is a good offensive team, maraming silang options. Nung kinalaban natin sila ang dami nilang naipasok na three-points laban sa atin,” said Arespacochaga, noting how the Kazakhs went 12-of-23 from downtown against the Filipinos for a fiery 52.2 percent clip.
Veteran big man Alexandr Zhigulin torched the Filipinos for 30 points including 6-of-12 from three-point range to complete the upset win.
But the Filipinos also have an ace up their sleeves in naturalized player Andray Blatche, who wasn't around in their first meeting with the Kazakhs in lieu of Stanley Pringle.
The 6-foot-11 Blatche was back in Team Pilipinas’ roster against the Qataris and fired 17 points to go with15 rebounds, and seven assists, while leading a third-quarter breakaway by the visitors.
“Nung kinalaban natin sila wala si Andray. Ang question ngayon diyan is how they will defend Andray, will they go one-on-one or kailangan nilang gumawa ng defensive scheme. At malaking bagay iyan sa atin,” said Arespacochaga.
“At yun ang isang malaking opportunity para sa atin for Andray to step up, and kung lalaruin niya lang ang laro niya, malaking problema ang ibibigay niya against Kazakhstan.”