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Lebanon spoils Jordan Clarkson's explosive return, repeats over Gilas

Waek Arakji broke Gilas' hearts in crunch time. FIBA
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Jordan Clarkson? Kai Sotto? Japeth Aguilar? Dwight Ramos? No problem!

Despite a solid outing from the four aforementioned Gilas Pilipinas players, Lebanon still held its own ground and beat the Philippine squad, 85-81, in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers early Friday (Philippine Time) at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Zouk Mikael, Lebanon.

Just like in their previous meeting in the FIBA Asia Cup, the Lebanese side turned the tides in the second quarter, but this time, with Clarkson, Sotto, Aguilar, and Ramos back for Gilas, the Filipinos pushed them to the limit, even taking the lead, 75-71, with 5:48 left.

However, Lebanon made seven straight points to retake the lead, 78-75, at the last two minute mark.

Aguilar tied the game for the last time with three free throws in the next play, but Waek Arakji came to work in the clutch, scoring five straight points including a dagger three off a recovery from Sotto's block on Ali Haidar with 16.3 seconds left.

Clarkson tried to keep Gilas in the game on his own, but luck eventually ran out on him.

Arakji finished with 24 points, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal for Lebanon, which moved up to second place in Group E at 4-1.

Amir Saoud added 17 points, four rebounds, one assist, and two steals before sitting out the rest of the game following an ankle injury.

Clarkson, in his first game with Gilas since the 2018 Asian Games, finished with 27 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, while Ramos added 18 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, and six steals.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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