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Gilas Pilipinas on shaky ground after falling to Angola

Gilas Pilipinas' 80-70 defeat to Angola Sunday, its second in as many games in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, was crushing enough.

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes PHOTO BY RIO DELUVIO

But what could irrevocably doom the Nationals, assuming they beat world No. 10 Italy on Tuesday and Dominican Republic sweeps the Group Phase, was the 10-point losing margin.

Coupled with the 87-81 loss to Dominican Republic on opening day at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan last Friday, the Philippines now faces a double-digit negative and would need a blowout win over Italy – and a victory by the Dominicans over Angola – to somehow overcome the odds in the unlikely event the No. 2 spot in Group A goes to a three-team tiebreak of 1-2 records.

But mathematics and speculations aside, Gilas Pilipinas may have kissed its second-round bid goodbye, and along with it, its dream of earning a ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics with a best-placed Asian finish.

Especially if Angola beats Dominican Republic at 4 p.m. on August 29, which would shut all doors of opportunity on the Filipinos. But if that outcome is otherwise, then a tiny window opens later for the Nationals at 8 p.m. against Italy.

And hope is the only thing the Philippines can cling to at this point. In yet another heartbreaking defeat that will surely sting for years to come, Gilas Pilipinas fell short in its inspired comeback, yielding to Angola at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and going down 0-2.

What was hoped to be a victory that would re-ignite the home team's bid of advancing to the next round of the global showpiece ended with another disappointment, as Gilas Pilipinas failed to complete its rally from 16 points down in the final five minutes.

The hero for Angola – and the biggest antagonist to the legion of 12,784 fans inside the Big Dome – was pint-sized, 5-foot-10 guard Gerson Domingos who buried a wide open right corner triple that dashed all hopes of a Gilas Pilipinas comeback.

The Filipinos, behind the efforts of Kai Sotto, Jordan Clarkson, and Rhenz Abando, came close to erasing the huge Angolan advantage when they cut the lead down to just five, 68-73.

Angola, however, went to Atlanta Hawks big Bruno Fernando, who made a good read of the Philippine defense and found Domingos wide open at the deep corner.

Gerson Goncalves led the way for the Angolans with 17 points while Domingos added 15. They also combined for seven triples while Fernando held the fort with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Clarkson once again paced the Filipinos with 21 points and seven assists.

The Utah Jazz guard, however, seemed to be a one-man wrecking crew with no teammate scoring in double-figures.

AJ Edu chipped in nine points and six rebounds while Sotto, RR Pogoy, and Dwight Ramos finished with eight apiece.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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