Karl-Anthony Towns not surprised by Gilas’ fight, praises ‘fantastic’ AJ Edu
BOCAUE, Bulacan—Karl-Anthony Towns shone in his first official game with the Dominican Republic in 10 years but he was all praise for Gilas Pilipinas’ AJ Edu, who held his ground against one of the best big men in the NBA, in the Fiba World Cup before a record crowd of 38,115 at Philippine Arena here.
Towns was welcomed with boos and the grit of Gilas’ big men led by June Mar Fajardo and the 23-year-old Edu.
The Minnesota Timberwolves star, though, still came through with 26 points and 10 rebounds to give the Dominicans a good start in Group A, which also had Italy as its opening-day winner.
The 6-foot-10 Edu, on the other hand, finished with seven points, five rebounds, and two blocks in 27 minutes of play while being the primary defender against Towns, who is listed at 7-feet.
“He’s a fantastic player, he’s an ultra competitor. I love the competition he brought tonight, it makes me better,” Towns told reporters after the Dominican Republic escaped Gilas, 87-81. “You know, Filipinos are a culture that don’t give up and they played hard, as I expect. The culture is nothing but a hard-working people.”
Towns was hardly surprised by Gilas’ stiff challenge and the never-say-die attitude of Filipinos with one of his best friends was born in General Santos City.
“It’s amazing. You know, I’ve never been here. I’ve told everyone I was dying to come out here, I didn’t know it would be through basketball. So, super excited to be here. The fans have been nothing but amazing to us,” Towns said. “The people are amazing. I’ve grown up with one of my best friends who is heavy into the Philippine culture, born here in General Santos City.”
“I’m very very proud to be a Dominican to be here with a win but also being very proud to meet all the fans here, all the great fans here in the Philippines, and be able to tell them salamat, mabuhay,” he added.
After a winning debut in his return to the Dominican Republic, Towns remains hungry for more.
“I just love to compete. I would love to play against the best of the best of the world,” he said.