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Anderson braces for ‘intense environment’

Kyle Anderson, naturalized player of China, looks forward to facing Jordan Clarkson and Gilas Pilipinas. (Photo from FIBA)

Naturalized Chinese player Kyle Anderson braces for an “intense environment” when China clashes with home team Gilas Pilipinas in the classification round of the FIBA World Cup on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Anderson, also known as Li Kaier, expects nothing but an all-out battle between the Asian rivals with pride and a chance to clinch a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics at stake.

“It’s gonna be an intense environment. They’re a really good team. They got some good players over there with the crowd on their side so it’ll be a tough environment,” Anderson said, referring to their scheduled 8 p.m. match.

Just like Gilas, the Chinese finished their first round campaign winless in three games. They, however, bounced back after posting an 83-74 win over Angola in their first game in the classification round.

But while the Filipinos put up resistance against second round-bound teams Dominican Republic and world No. 10 Italy and African powerhouse Angola in Group A, China absorbed quite a beating dropping blowout games to Serbia and Puerto
Rico, which advanced to the second round, and South Sudan.

Anderson hopes that they could build momentum, if not score a crucial win over Gilas that will put them closer to an Olympic berth.

“I think we just gotta look at how we can get better with this game and try to go out there and play hard the next game and figure it out. We gotta need some time to prepare,” Anderson said.

The Minnesota Timberwolves star, who averaged 10.3 points and 4.0 rebounds, is also looking forward to playing against a familiar opponent in Gilas’ Jordan Clarkson.

Anderson and Clarkson have a long history of competition. They faced each other during college in the NCAA Division 1 with Anderson suiting up for University of California while Clarkson playing for University of Tulsa before transferring to University of Missouri.

Anderson and Clarkson, who currently plays for Utah Jazz, would eventually cross paths again in the National Basketball Association.

“(I’ve) been playing against him since college so it’s always fun to go up against him. It’s always fun to compete,” Anderson, who has been blowing hot and cold in China’s run and even went scoreless in his first game, said.

Clarkson, on the other hand, is averaging 24.0 points, 6.7 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game.

“Just wanna get ready to go. We’re professionals so I’m sure we will be ready to go,” Anderson said.

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