Gilas Pilipinas crashes out of Fiba World Cup after loss to Italy
MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas turned in its most cohesive outing in the 2023 Fiba World Cup on Tuesday night, but it was not enough against an Italy side that rediscovered its lethal touch.
The host Philippines bowed to the sweet-shooting Italians, 90-83, to end up winless in Group A play of the global showcase at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
“Very proud of the effort of our players. What a way to fight after those two painful losses to give it all against a Top 10 team of the World. We couldn’t ask for more. We continue to fight,” national coach Chot Reyes said in the post game presser.
Jordan Clarkson had 23 points, cornerstone Dwight Ramos 14, while four more players finished with at least eight each in the losing stand relegated the Gilas Pilipinas to the crossover classification round.
The Philippines will next play the bottom two teams from Group B which could either be South Sudan or regional powerhouse China.
“South Sudan is a physical and athletic team. We watched them play a few games. They’re coaching as well. I know Luol Deng and how he has put the program over there. Wenyen Gabriel, too. China as well. Very familiar with that team with Kyle Anderson joining them as well,” said Clarkson.
“Two really good teams. So we have to put it together. They’ve been put together well with size. But we’re ready to fight.”
Gilas’ only consolation–for now–is that Japan, which upset Finland last Sunday, lost to Australia, 109-89, in Okinawa and will also slide into the classification round, keeping the race among Asian teams vying for a Paris berth alive.
But there was no balming the sting of defeat, especially with the loss happening on home soil. Gilas became the first host team to end the World Cup’s preliminaries without a single win after Colombia in 1982.
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Simone Fontecchio led the way for the Italians with 18 points, Giampaolo Ricci chipped in 14 while Marco Spissu and Stefano Tonut 13 each, flexing their outside shooting.
The Azzurri hit 17 of their 41 triples (41 percent), a timely comeback for the World No. 10 who have been frosty from beyond the arc in their first two games (20 percent).
Alessandro Pajola turned 11 points off the bench, including a triple that greased an 8-0 run shortly after checking into the game.
Clarkson had seven rebounds and six assists to his name in yet another do-it-all effort that went down the drain.
Gilas, meanwhile, was only able to convert 10 of their 29 shots from deep.