Gilas loses to Dominican Republic in Fiba World Cup heartbreak
BOCAUE, Bulacan — With Jordan Clarkson fouling out late, Gilas Pilipinas sputtered against the Dominican Republic, 87-81, in its 2023 Fiba World Cup debut on Friday night.
Clarkson finished with 28 points, seven rebounds and seven assists before fouling out in the final 3:32 of the contest at Philippine Arena here.
June Mar Fajardo added 16 points and seven rebounds while Dwight Ramos had 13 points and six rebounds in the losing effort before a record 38,115 spectators.
“Without our guy, their guy went to work. Just kept going to the basket, and kept getting foul after foul after foul. We shot 34 free throws and that’s just too much for us,” Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said in the post-game presser.
NBA All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns, to nobody’s surprise, led the way for the visitors, turning in a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds. Victor Liz, Gilas’ tormentor in the Olympic qualifiers, chipped in 18 while Andres Feliz 12 more to put the finishing touches on their escape.
“We played well. We gave ourselves a chance to win. Some calls didn’t go our way, but that’s part of the game,” said Clarkson, who left the game when Gilas was trailing, 79-76.
“We just can’t leave it in the refs’ hands to make those plays in the end. We’ll come back and try to get the next one,” he added.
That next one will be up for grabs this Sunday, 8 p.m., at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, when the hosts play an Angolan side that threatened the World No. 10 Italians for three quarters before fading in the home stretch.
“Maganda naman ‘yung laro ng team, may mga lapses lang talaga. Kailangan lang namin i-correct ‘yon, so bounce back [kami] next game,” Fajardo, the Philippine Basketball Association’s six-time Most Valuable Player, told reporters shortly after the defeat.
(The team played well. We just had lapses that we need to correct for us to be able to bounce back next game.)
“Sayang lang, kailangan talaga kasi si JC sa endgame,” Fajardo added of Gilas being without Clarkson just as when it was trying to get back into the game.
(It’s just too bad because we needed JC in the endgame.)
“It happens in basketball,” said Fajardo’s frontcourt mate AJ Edu, who finished with seven points, five rebounds, and two blocks in his men’s team debut.
“The nature of these tournaments is you give it all in one game and then you get a quick rest, quick recovery and you’re back again competing at that level. So yeah, we’ll just have to go back and focus on the next game,” he added.