FIBA WC 2023: With loss to Angola, Gilas Pilipinas continues to search for first win in five years

LONE BRIGHT SPOT. Jordan Clarkson finished with 21 points against Angola but wasn't enough to carry Gilas Pilipinas to its first World Cup win in five years, as he is the only double-digit scorer for the host. PHOTO: FIBA
MANILA, Philippines – The drought continues.
A win remained elusive for Gilas Pilipinas, which won its last World Cup game in 2014 against Senegal.
The Philippines couldn't maintain its strong start as the host collapsed in the fourth period to suffer an 80-70 loss against Angola in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Sunday night, August 27.
Having met the same country in Foshan, China four years ago, the Philippine men's national basketball team seemed forgetful of the lessons they promised to take note the next time around.
Gilas struggled to contain the athletic, relentless, and ever-hustling Angolan side on both ends of the floor to fall 0-2 in Group A, following a stinging 87-81 heartbreak over the Dominican Republic in the opening day at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Angola, meanwhile, improved to a 1-1 slate.
The nationals will face Italy to wrap up their group campaign on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the same venue after the Angola and Dominican Republic showdown at 4 p.m.
Gli Azzurri lost earlier to Los Quisqueyanos, 87-82, and found themselves in a must-win game over Gilas.
With a game at hand, the Philippines can still qualify for the next round if it upsets Italy by at least 13 points, while Angola loses to DR. Once that happens, the host, the Italians, and the Angolans will have an identical 1-2 win-loss record, with the point difference serving as a tiebreaker for the three of them.
Angola, 41st globally, made it extremely difficult for the 40th-ranked Filipino cagers to do their stuff, especially on the inside. Their tight defense forced the Philippines to 15 turnovers – 10 from steals.
To make matters worse, the 11-time AfroBasket champion translated those defensive lapses into points. They had 19 turnover points and outran Gilas in the open court for 17 fast break points.
Chot Reyes' wards even allowed the Josep Clarós Canals-mentored squad to collect 20 offensive rebounds. Thankfully, they only scored 14 second chance points but remained big for Gilas to swallow.
Three-point shooting, supposedly a game-changer for Gilas to potentially stretch the vaulted interior Angolan guard, also went the Africans' way. Angola shot 29% from beyond the arc, connecting three of their nine triples in the fourth that left the game unreachable for the Filipinos – fired a measly 4/22 from rainbow country.
Gerson Gonçalves led Angola's five double-digit scorers with 17 points built on four triples. The Petro de Luanda guard listed his eight markers in the huge 12-3 run in the payoff period that opened a 68-55 lead in favor of the visitors with 6:10 left.
Gerson Domingos added 15 markers on a trifecta of three-pointers and seven assists. Atlanta Hawks' Bruno Fernando, the first-ever Angolan player to get drafted in the National Basketball Association (NBA), provided 14 points from a 6/11 shooting clip with seven boards and two assists. Jilson Bango and Silvio de Sousa chipped in 10 apiece.
Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson solely carried the scoring load for Gilas as the only guy in double figures with 21 points on another poor shooting night. The former NBA Sixth Man of the Year missed 15 of his 22 field goals (FGs), including seven misses in the three-point line.
Clarkson was among the casualties of the great Angolan defense. The 10-year NBA veteran faced different guys that put him under tremendous pressure whenever the ball was in his hands.
AJ Edu posted nine points on 4/6 FGs laced with six rebounds. Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto, and Roger Pogoy contributed eight markers each in a losing effort.

Gilas comeback bid in Q4 falls short

PHOTO: FIBA
Bringing a slim 56-52 lead in the fourth period, the Gonçalves-paced Angola went on to establish a 13-point cushion, 68-55, in the remaining 6:10 minutes.
Gonçalves hit two of his triples in the 12-3 blitz used by the Angolans to silence the crowd in Cubao.
Gilas couldn't answer, with their shots missing the mark.
That allowed the Angolans to extend the lead by 16 points, 73-57, with 3:39 to go.
With time running out, Reyes inserted Rhenz Abando and the Anyang KGC star gave Gilas the much-needed energy and hustle to spark a late 11-0 charge to trim the deficit to 73-68 in the last 1:12 of the fourth.
However, the red-hot Philippine gallant stand ended in the hands of Domingos, who comfortably drilled his wide-open, cold-blooded triple after a defensive collapse on the part of Gilas for a 76-68 Angola lead.
Gilas, from that point, couldn't recover, with Fernando's putback dunk sealing Angola's 10-point win against the home team.
The Angolans successfully bounced back from their 86-67 loss to Italy in the World Cup opener in Bulacan, which saw them fought back and forth before losing steam in the payoff period.

Strong start, poor finish for Gilas

PHOTO: FIBA
Energized by the ecstatic Filipino hopefuls in the venue, Gilas came strong in the first quarter, with Fajardo slamming home the nationals' first two points.
The Philippines got the best of Angola in the opening frame to, 19-12, with offense clicking for the former spearheaded by Clarkson's five points as Pogoy and CJ Perez contributed four each.
Gilas continued to pummel the Angolans early in the second period. Their lead ballooned to 11 points, 28-17, with 7:25 to play, thanks to everyone's efforts to look for openings they effectively exploited.
Slowly, Angola clawed its way back and tied the second quarter at 28-all, with their stifling defense coming to work.
Filipino guards found themselves hounded from the backcourt and the interior got tighter, unlike in the first 10 minutes and early stretch of the second.
This helped the Angolans outscore the Filipinos in the period, 24-14, to take a 36-33 lead going to the halftime break.
Both sides traded buckets in the third quarter, but the African five remained in control, preventing the defiant Asians from mounting any insurmountable attempts to break away.
Q3 ended with Angola leading by four entering the last quarter, 56-52, and they never looked back.
Two-time Gold Medallion Book Award finalist Jim George had the perfect words to describe the Angolans' unyielding attitude toward victory.
"It's not how you start that's important, but how you finish."

Last Modified: 2024-Jul-11 00.10 +0800