No more outright Olympic spot for Gilas after loss to Tunisia
BEIJING—Playing in a different city and playing for pride more than anything else, Gilas Pilipinas’ fortunes hardly changed in the consolation round of the Fiba World Cup as the Filipinos took an 86-67 loss at the hands of Tunisia at Wukesong Arena here to kiss their outright Olympic hopes goodbye as well.
The Filipinos were held to 10 first quarter points and 24 for the first half as Tunisia opened up a 22-point lead heading into the third period, a deficit Gilas never came close to putting a dent on as it lost for the fourth consecutive game dating back to Group D play in Foshan.
And that extinguished all hopes the Filipinos had of finishing as the best Asian side here and making the Tokyo Games next year would entail an even tougher task as they would need to top a qualifying tournament that Fiba will determine later on.
Andray Blatche had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Filipinos, who will try to play the role of spoilers on Sunday in their match against Iran, an old tormentor that still has a chance to make it to Tokyo without a hitch.
The Iranians will come out for that one fired up as they just stayed alive in the Olympics race after they pulled out a 71-62 win over Angola earlier.
Meanwhile, rookie CJ Perez’s first tour of international duty has so far been a rosy one—despite the tumbles that Gilas Pilipinas has taken in the Fiba World Cup—as he emerged as the top Filipino performer after Group play that ended on Thursday.
On the strength of a 17-point performance that almost helped the Filipinos pull out a win over Angola on Wednesday night in Foshan, Perez entered the consolation phase averaging 16 points a contest, tied for 21st spot in the scoring hierarchy along with NBA veteran Ersan Ilyasova of Turkey.
Giannis Antetokounmpo of Greece, the reigning NBA MVP, averaged 15.7 points in group play, while Marc Gasol of reigning NBA champs the Toronto Raptors, turned in an average of 15 points for Spain like Hamed Haddadi of Iran.
No Asian team advanced to the second round, and the lone automatic slot allotted to the region for the best finisher here is still up for grabs.
Blatche, Gilas’ naturalized center, averaged 14.3 points, his norm weakened by a five-point effort in that loss to Serbias on Monday.