By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno

Jordan Clarkson (Courtesy of FIBA)

MANILA – Gilas Pilipinas got a huge morale booster ahead of the FIBA World Cup after trampling Ivory Coast, 85-62, in a closed-door tune-up match at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig on Friday night.

In his first game back with Gilas, Jordan Clarkson exploded early on but his teammates showed the way for the Philippine team down the stretch.

Clarkson sizzled early and scored nearly half of Gilas’ first-quarter points – 13 in particular – as they raced to a 27-24 lead against Ivory Coast.

However, as Ivory Coast began marking Clarkson, his teammates began providing significant production for Gilas as they sustained the lead and even pulled away in the fourth quarter by holding their visitors to just nine points while dropping 25.

Clarkson played the entire first half but only played for the first four minutes of the third quarter, also tallying six rebounds, one assist, and one steal, although he too had four turnovers.

June Mar Fajardo also tallied 13 points on 4-for-5 field goals and 5-for-6 free throws along with two rebounds.

In his first game back from a hand injury, Scottie Thompson had 11 points, four rebounds, five assists, and one block.

Kai Sotto tallied 10 points, going 5-for-6 from the field, four rebounds, two assists, and one block in his first tune-up game for Gilas.

Gilas activated 13 members of its current 16-man pool for the friendly match, giving Thirdy Ravena, Ray-Ray Parks and Calvin Oftana a breather.

Coach Chot Reyes, however, said all 16 players would be given playing time in their three-game tune-up series, which concludes with a Sunday game against Montenegro, and a Monday clash with Mexico.

Bazoumana Kone and Moence Dadiet each tallied 12 points for Ivory Coast, which has played its last tune-up game and now shifts attention to the FIBA World Cup itself.

Box Scores:

Philippines: 85 – Clarkson 13, Fajardo 13, Edu 12, Thompson 11, Sotto 10, Ramos 7, Aguilar 6, Abando 5, Pogoy 4, Perez 3, Ravena 1, Malonzo 0, Newsome 0

Ivory Coast: 62 – Kone 12, Dadiet 12, Sidibe 8, Tape 6, V. Fofana 5, Zouzoua 5, Diabate 3, Daily 3, Mbulane 2, Abouo 2, Bah 2, Traore 2, M. Fofana 0

Quarterscores: 27-24, 42-38, 60-53, 85-62 (PNA)