Mixed emotions for Philippines at Asian Games

Jakarta: Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz won the Philippines’ first gold medal of the 2018 Asian Games and “proud Indonesian” Eko Yuli Irawan triumphed for the hosts on a pulsating day of action on Tuesday.

Diaz, the silver medallist from the Rio Olympics, pipped Turkmenistan’s Kristina Shermetova by just one kilogram to win the women’s 53kg class.

Earlier Irawan, also a silver medallist in Rio, dominated the men’s 62kg competition to take Indonesia’s first weightlifting gold of the Games in front of President Joko Widodo.

There was no such joy on the basketball court as the Philippines were vastly improved with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson added to the tea, but they went down 82-80 to China.

Although the US-born Clarkson led all scorers with 28 points, he had to sit out much of the fourth quarter with a cramp in his right thigh. That was the opening China needed to win their Group D game.

Clarkson returned to play the last few minutes of the quarter, and the Philippines Paul Dalistan missed a 3-point shot with about five seconds left, which could have sealed an upset against the tournament favourites.

“After he cramped, Jordan couldn’t play his 100-per cent best,” Philippines coach Joseller Guiao said. “But even without him in there we still played well.”

Despite the loss, the Philippines should reach the quarter-finals with China heavily favoured to beat Kazakhstan on Thursday.

Houston Rockets’ Zhou Qi led China with 25. The 2.17 metre centre blocked a half-dozen shots for the vastly taller Chinese. China’s other NBA player, Dallas Mavericks small forward Ding Yanyuhang, had seven points.

Clarkson, whose mother has Philippines heritage that earned him a passport, arrived in Jakarta just a few days ago after the NBA finally agreed to let him play.

He hit the third of three straight 3-point shots to tie the game at 55-55 late in the third quarter.

The Philippines led 78-75 late in the game, but couldn’t hold on with Clarkson unable to play at full speed.

“We have to keep moving on and hope we get to play them [China] again in the tournament,” said Philippines guard Gabriel Norwood.


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