Gilas falls to South Sudan as outright Olympics bid ends too
MANILA, Philippines-Jordan Clarkson promised that Gilas Pilipinas would leave it all on the floor on Thursday night. The Philippines did just that, only it was still not enough to beat South Sudan.
Gilas fought back from 21 points down but crumpled when it mattered most, bowing to the Bright Stars, 87-68, in the classification round of the 2023 Fiba World Cup.
With the loss, Gilas also missed out on an outright qualification to next year’s Paris Olympics after co-host Japan claimed its second win of the tournament following an 86-77 victory over Venezuela in Group O of the classification.
Clarkson delivered 24 points, while Dwight Ramos added 20 more to go with 12 rebounds in the losing stand before 9,250 screaming fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
“Tough game. They shot really well. They kind of took us by surprise [with] how well they shot it. They’re a very physical team as well, so they definitely used that as well,” said AJ Edu who put up a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds.
“It took us a while to figure out how to defend against the way they were executing. Eventually, we did and we were right there in the end,” he went on. “[There were] a couple of things—a couple of turnovers, a couple of missed shots and a couple big shots from them. [Things] Just didn’t pan out our way.”
Gilas went on an 11-0 frenzy and even pulled within four, 56-60, in the final period. But its offense conked just as the Bright Stars reasserted themselves.
Carlik Jones had 17 points, Nuni Omot and Majok Deng 13 each, Marial Shayok 12, while Los Angeles Lakers forward Wenyen Gabriel added 11 points and 12 rebounds for the World Cup debutants, who snared their second win in the global showcase.
“I don’t think anything much needs to be said. We played our worst game when it counted the most. Tremendous fightback by the guys but we spent too much energy to claw back and we didn’t have enough to finish it,” Gilas coach Chot Reyes said.
“It’s just unfortunate for us to shoot below 40 percent from the field. We couldn’t make shots. I guess that’s the story,” Reyes added.
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Gilas actually shot 35 percent, which was compounded by an even more frosty clip from the free-throw line (6-for-13). Not helping was the fact that the Bright Stars converted the Nationals’ 15 errors into 13 of their points.
“We know that this is the game we had to win. That’s why I’m disappointed. [There goes our] Olympic dream, for now,” said Reyes.
The Philippines’ best pathway to Paris now lies within the Olympic Qualifying Tournament which will be held in the coming months. That showcase will dangle four berths to the Summer Games.
The Philippines now sets its sights on China, which is coming off a breakthrough 83-76 win over Angola earlier to remain in contention for the Paris berth.
Gilas and China tangle on Saturday, 8 p.m., at the Big Dome.