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Why Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto are the Duo to Watch at the FIBA World Cup 2023

Jordan Clarkson Kai Sotto FIBA World Cup
NBA star Jordan Clarkson and Japan B. League import Kai Sotto gear up once more to lead the Philippines at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. Discover why this dynamic duo is set to electrify the court from August 25 to September 10 on home soil. FIBA photos.

The Philippines’ Gilas Pilipinas is gearing up for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, and all eyes are on NBA star Jordan Clarkson and Japan B. League import Kai Sotto. The duo is set to lead the national team on home soil, promising an electrifying performance from August 25 to September 10.

Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto are anticipated to once again rally the home crowd as they did before at the FIBA Asia Qualifiers, raising expectations of thrilling games after their names were included in the Gilas Pilipinas preliminary squad list of 21 players for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 that coach Chot Reyes announced on June 7.

Jordan Clarkson: NBA Star with a Heart for the Philippines

Jordan Clarkson, the Utah Jazz shooting guard, is no stranger to the limelight. The NBA Sixth Man awardee with career-best numbers this season, is the favorite to claim the naturalized spot on the Gilas Pilipinas roster. His love for the Philippines and the sport is palpable, as he shared with FIBA during the NBA All-Star weekend.

“Playing for your country means a lot,” Clarkson said. “In the Philippines, basketball is like the number one thing.” His anticipation for the World Cup is infectious, “It’s going to be an amazing experience, people seeing the country, being able to experience that.”

Clarkson’s performance in the Asian Qualifiers for the World Cup left spectators in awe, and he’s eager to replicate that success in the upcoming World Cup. In two Asian Qualifiers appearances, the Filipino American averaged 25 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 6.5 assists in the Gilas Pilipinas battle against Lebanon in Beirut, and versus Saudi Arabia in Manila.

As the second Filipino American to make it in the NBA, Clarkson has a massive following in Southeast Asia, and his return to the Philippines homeland of his mother is highly anticipated.

“Seeing the love people have for basketball there, I wouldn’t be surprised if every game is sold out. It’s going to be really loud there and everybody is going to feel that love and support when you walk around the city while playing games,” Clarkson said.

REWATCH the highlights of Jordan Clarkson’s games as a member of the Gilas Pilipinas squad in this video:

Kai Sotto: The Homegrown Hopeful

Kai Sotto, the center for Hiroshima Dragonflies, has been making waves in the Japan Basketball League. At 7’3”, Sotto has been a consistent performer, boosting his chances of playing in the NBA. His inclusion in the Gilas Pilipinas squad has delighted home fans and his dedication to the national team is unwavering.

“I never said no to representing my country,” Sotto said in an interview on Radyo Singko. “I’ve been playing for my country ever since I was 14 years old,” added the UAAP Juniors MVP from the Ateneo Blue Eagles high school squad.

Sotto previously trained for the NBA G-League and more recently played for Australia NBL’s Adelaide 36ers, where he was voted People’s MVP. With the 36ers, he averaged 6.8 points on 51% shooting, 4.5 rebounds, 0.4 assists, and 0.8 blocks in 27 games in the 2022-2023 Australian NBL season. At the Japan B. League, his numbers were 9.5 points on 52.3% shooting, 6.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 blocks in 21 games with Hiroshima. Sotto also recently participated in a mini-camp by the Utah Jazz, the team of Filipino-American star Jordan Clarkson.

Throughout his many overseas stints in his quest to be the first all-Filipino homegrown player in the NBA, Sotto answered the call from Gilas Pilipinas to play for the Philippines’ men’s national basketball team.

After going unpicked in the 2022 NBA Draft. He is suiting up for Orlando Magic in the 2023 NBA Summer League scheduled from July 7 to 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada, ahead of the FIBA tournament.

The 21-year-old big man is the tallest player in the 22-man roster announced by the Orlando Magic for the NBA Summer League. The Filipino athlete will vie for minutes on the court and enough exposure to get the attention of an NBA team for the 2023-2024 season. His contract extension with the Dragonflies for the 2023-2024 B. League season includes an opt-out clause in case he is signed by an NBA team after the Summer League.

“My top two dreams: to make it to the NBA and represent the national team.” Sotto is currently training with Orlando Magic for the NBA Summer League, hoping to catch the eye of NBA scouts.

RELIVE the excitement brought to the court by Kai Sotto in this FIBA Asia Qualifiers Highlights video:

The Road to the FIBA World Cup 2023

The FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is a historic event, being the first World Cup hosted by multiple nations in Asia. The Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia will be hosting 32 teams from August 25 to September 10.

Sixteen countries in Groups A, B, C, and D are set to play in front of the basketball-loving Filipino nation in Quezon City’s Araneta Coliseum and Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena with the opening games to be played in Bulacan’s Philippine Arena.

Gilas Pilipinas is placed in Group A with Angola, Dominican Republic, and Italy. Simultaneously playing at the Okinawa Arena in Japan are teams from 8 other countries in Groups E and F. Eight more countries in Groups G and H will see action at the Indonesia Arena in Jakarta.

Here is the FIBA World Cup Games Schedule:

Here is the Full List of the 21-man primary squad list for Gilas Pilipinas Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team at the 2023 FIBA World Cup:

With the best result by the Philippines at the FIBA Basketball World Cup being a bronze in 1954, the stakes are high. The top teams will qualify for the Paris 2024 Games, adding another layer of anticipation to the event.

With Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto leading the charge, the Philippines’ Gilas Pilipinas is set to make a strong impression at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023. The duo’s dedication to the sport and their country is sure to make the event a memorable one for basketball fans worldwide.

Stay tuned for more updates on the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 and the exciting journey of Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto.

SEND MABUHAY cheers in the comments below to Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto as the duo suits up for Gilas Pilipinas at the FIBA World Cup 2023!

Good News Pilipinas is a Lasallian Scholarum Awardee. TELL US your good news story tips by messaging GoodNewsPilipinas.com on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or e-mailing editor@goodnewspilipinas.com

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The Good News Pilipinas Team
The Good News Pilipinas Team
The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.

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