It was a game the Philippines would want to forget

By Nicole Ganglani | Lead photo from FIBA.com

Gilas Pilipinas opened its FIBA World Cup 2019 campaign with a blowout loss after surrendering to Italy, 108-62 at the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center in Foshan, China on Aug 31, Saturday. 

From the start, the Filipinos found themselves ice cold from the field after just converting four out of 13 shots. It didn’t help that Italy’s deadly outside shooting was in full display, which gave them a 37-8 advantage early in the first quarter.

The momentum continued for the Italians as they went on to shoot 58 percent from the field throughout the game. Italy’s big man Luigi Datome, scored 17 points in just 16 minutes of play. NBA forward Danilo Gallinari also chipped in 16 points and spiked four treys while Marco Belinelli converted nine points, which helped stretched Italy’s lead (62-24) at the end of the first half.

Meanwhile, the Philippine team’s top scorers were CJ Perez and Robert Bolick who combined for  21 points. Gilas’ big man, Andray Blatche contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds but had nine out of the team’s 23 turnovers. The Philippines’ shooting woes continued in the second half and only managed to score 38 points by the end of the fourth quarter.

In order to advance to the next round, Gilas Pilipinas must defeat Serbia on Monday. Serbia is currently ranked as the third best team in the world and their win against Angola, 105-59, earlier proved just that.

No Match from the Start

Before the Philippine team left for Foshan last Thursday, head coach Yeng Guiao mentioned that the first game versus Italy is going to determine the fate of the country in the World Cup. Unfortunately, the team’s biggest weapon (perimeter shooting) was nowhere in sight and it didn’t help that Blatche couldn’t get a field goal from the get-go.

Gilas will need to pull out all the stops to even make it to the next round. Serbia, led by NBA star Nikola Jokic, is going to be another nightmare for the Philippines. Serbia is known for its depth, size (half of its roster consists of players 6-foot-10 or taller), and star power—which is going to be trouble for Gilas. The biggest advantage of this team is their ability to dictate style of play. All four centers in Serbia’s roster specifically Jokic, Boban Marjanovic, Nikola Milutinov, and Miroslav Raduljic are enormous inside the paint, have played in the NBA, and could possibly be the Philippines’ biggest threat.

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