Japan’s scandal-hit men’s team out of Games
JAKARTA, Aug 27, (Agencies): Defending champions South Korea overcame NBA star Jordan Clarkson’s Philippines in a hard-fought Asian Games basketball match in Jakarta on Monday.
US-born Ricardo Preston Ratliffe scored 30 points for South Korea as they won the quarter-finals encounter 91-82 to guarantee at least a bronze in 5×5 basketball.
Victory meant the South Korean basketball team kept up their supremacy in the regional Olympics over the Philippines, who last won against the Asian giants in the 1962 edition.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Clarkson – who joined his national side late after the US league released him in a last-minute U-turn – scored 25 points to keep the Philippines fighting, but South Korea took the game away in the final quarter.
Ratliffe told reporters South Korea had executed their game plan well despite Clarkson’s best efforts.
“I think he (Clarkson) did a great job especially in the first half. He did what he does best. He also came strong in the second half,” Ratliffe said of his former teammate from their University of Missouri days.
However Ratliffe sympathised with the Philippines who put a team together for the Asian Games at the last minute after 10 of their players were suspended in an on-court brawl during a World Cup qualifier.
“I think it has do a lot with the chemistry, they are a new team. They just got together a week before the games, so I think they did a great job,” said Ratliffe.
“Had they got chemistry and stayed with the team, I think they would have done very very well.” South Korea will play their semifinal on Thursday against Iran, who beat Japan 93-67.
Philippines coach Yeng Guiao said that he could not have asked anything more from his team, also singling out Clarkson for praise.
“He was making his best effort to help the team. It’s just as it is a new environment for us,” said Guiao.
“Korea just played better today. They got their rhythm with the big point shots in the last quarter. Before that we were playing decent against them,” he added.
South Korea took an early lead but the Philippines played catch up at the start of the second quarter.
The Philippines led until the third quarter at 65-64, before South Korea completely outplayed the Filipinos in the final minutes.
Meanwhile Japan’s turbulent Asian Games basketball tournament, which saw four players sent home in disgrace, came to an end when they were beaten 93-67 by Iran in the quarter-finals.
The Japanese Olympic Committee revoked four players’ accreditation after they were found to have spent the night with women in a Jakarta hotel.
The remain eight members of the squad had pulled off an emotional win over Hong Kong to reach the quarter-finals last Wednesday but found Iran a bridge too far.
Unable to train five-on-five in the leadup to Monday’s game, or frequently rotate players in an out of the match-up, eventually took its toll.
“Always, if you have four less players then it is tough, to play with only eight players,” said Japan coach Herman Mandole.
“Those four players made a big mistake and I accept the rules. That is not an excuse to not compete and not play tough.” Mandole said his team played well under the circumstances.
“We are eight players and since one week ago we haven’t had the possibility of practicing five-on-five,” said the Argentine.
“In this scenario, this game was good because my players gave 100 percent, all the time. We competed for 35 minutes but the other five minutes they are better than us.” Iran will face South Korea in the semifinals on Thursday.