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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

PH drops ball vs. Angola 80-70, dims FIBA journey

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ANOTHER LOSS FOR GILAS. Philippines’ June Mar Fajardo (center) shoots over Angola’s Bruno Fernando (left) during the FIBA Basketball World Cup group A match between the Philippines and Angola at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on August 27, 2023. Angola won the match, 80-70. AFP

Gilas Pilipinas failed to match the energy of a scrappy Angolan side, dropping its second straight game in an 80-70 loss in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night.

Three-point shooting abandoned the Filipinos, while the Angolans transformed into marksmen from the outside, leading to the stunning 10-point win that silenced a predominantly Filipino crowd inside the Big Dome and infused life into their sagging chances to advance following an 81-67 loss to Italy on Friday.

“We did get a nice lead early. But we knew Angola would make a comeback. We got hammered on the boards. We gave up 20 offensive rebounds to the other team,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes, referring to the nationals’ mere 12 boards.

“We ran some plays that looked for open shots. It was not surprising. We made different kinds of plays to confuse the opponent. We got good shoots, sometimes we didn’t,” said Angolan coach Jose Claros Canals.

Gerson Goncalves shot a team-high 17 points, including four triples that helped the Angolans post their first win in two outings in Group A.

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Two triples from Goncalves in the remaining 7:37 saw the Angolans unleashing a decisive 15-3 blast that transformed a 54-58 deficit into a 16-point, 73-57 edge, in the remaining 3:39.

NBA star Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz made 21 points for Gilas, which suffered their second straight setback following an 87-81 loss to the Karl Anthony Towns-led Dominican Republic on Friday.

The contest was last tied at 40-all when Kiefer Ravena made a driving shot in the final 7:04 of the third period.

But the Angolans started moving away off a pair of triples from Goncalves and Gerson Domingos in the last 19 seconds of the third, 56-52.

AJ Edu had nine points for Gilas, while Dwight Ramos and Kai Sotto added eight apiece.

Gilas had a mini-run in the fourth quarter, when Clarkson finally put an end to the Angolans’ run with his two freebies and a layup at the 3:05 mark to trim the deficit to 61-73, before two free throws by Sotto moved the hosts to within 68-73.

But Domingos hit a dagger three with 47.5 seconds left to move Angola to safer grounds at 76-68, en route to the win.

All is not lost for Gilas, though, but the climb to the second round just got steeper as it needs to beat world’s no. 7 Italy by a huge margin to force a three-way deadlock at second spot, granting the Angolans also lose to the Dominicans on Tuesday.

In the first game at the same venue, Towns and Andres Feliz drilled in 24 points apiece as the Dominican Republic stunned Italy, 87-82, for their second straight win.

It was a crucial loss for the Italians, who will be hard-pressed to win their final game against Gilas.

The 7’0” Towns credited his teammates for the discipline they showed against the Italians, who slipped to second spot with their first loss in two outings in Group A.

“We just had to stay disciplined. We just have to find our shots in the second half. It was really a great win,” said Towns, who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves, as the Dominicans boosted their chances of reaching the Round of 16.

The Dominicans, coached by Nestor Garcia, will have a chance to go for a three-game sweep of Group A if they hurdle Angola on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Marco Spissu shot 17, while Simone Fontecchio added 12 points for the Italians, who are now in a must-win situation, going into the final group stage game with Gilas at 8 p.m. on Monday.

Fontecchio handed the Italians the lead for the last time, 39-38, with his dunk with 54 ticks to before the end of the first half.

An 11-2 run, touched off by Towns and Feliz in the last 8:13 saw the Dominicans moving away from a 41-all deadlock and taking a 59-45 edge when their run ended four minutes later.

The Italians managed to come back, with Spissu hitting charities to stay within range, 82-85, in the final 19 seconds.

But, Lester Quinones’ two freebies two seconds later off Steffano Tonut’s foul, frustrated the Italian in the remaining time.

The Italians could no longer close the gap after Gianpaolo Ricci and Spissu bungled two three-pointers as time expired.

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