MANILA, Philippines – Angola has Gilas Pilipinas’ number in the FIBA World Cup, whether they are playing abroad or at home.
After a dismal 80-70 loss to Angola in front of a surprised home crowd at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, August 27, the Philippines perhaps missed its best opportunity to secure a victory in the group round.
Four years after defeating Gilas Pilipinas in the previous World Cup in China, Jordan Clarkson scored 21 points, but ineffectively, as Angola reasserted their dominance over the Filipinos.
In the fourth quarter of the defeat, which saw the Philippines blow an 11-point lead in the first half, the top player for the Utah Jazz shot 7 of 22 from the floor and scored just 4 points.
Early in the second quarter, a basket by Roger Pogoy gave Gilas Pilipinas their highest lead of the game at 28-17. However, Angola closed out the first half on the strength of a scorching 19-5 run spearheaded by Bruno Fernando, giving them a 36-33 advantage.
Angola moved to 1-1 thanks to Fernando of the Atlanta Hawks, who finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal.
The biggest thorn in the Philippines’ side, though, was Gerson Goncalves, who finished the game with 17 points and 6 rebounds and a streak of crucial baskets in the closing seconds.
When Goncalves made a pair of three-pointers to start a 16-3 run and make it 73-57 early in the fourth quarter, the Filipinos were down by just two possessions, 54-58.
The Philippines had hopes of pulling off a comeback after an 11-0 run led by Clarkson and last-minute substitution Rhenz Abando, but Gerson Domingos hit a backbreaking triple to make it 76-68 and all but seal the victory for Angola.
The Black Antelope, who shot a dismal 29% from three-point range but still managed to surpass the Filipinos’ even worse 18% clip (4-of-22), got their ninth three-pointer from Domingos.
Chot Reyes, the head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas, recognized that his squad had kept the game close till the very end. He emphasized that his team attempted some important three-point baskets in the closing minutes that, if made, would have substantially changed the outcome of the game. He noted that Angola, on the other hand, made accurate three-point tries, which significantly impacted the course of the game.
The defeat hurt the Philippines’ hopes of qualifying for the Paris Olympics when Japan, the first Asian team to triumph, defeated Finland 98-88 in Group E in Okinawa on Sunday.
Through the World Cup, only the top-finishing Asian team will make it to the Summer Games the following year.
No other Philippines player reached double digits, with Kai Sotto recording 8 points and 6 rebounds while AJ Edu put up a 9-point, 6-rebound performance in their defeat against the Dominican Republic.
CJ Perez, who didn’t participate in the Dominicans game at all, finished with 7 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in over 12 minutes.
Gilas Pilipinas, the only winless team in Group A with a 0-2 record, can still win when it takes against Italy on Tuesday, August 29, at the same location.
Scores at the end of the match
- Angola with 80 points for the win
Goncalves 17, Domingos 15, Fernando 14, Bango 10, De Sousa 10, Dundao 4, Kokila 4, Francisco 3, Paulo 2, Monteiro 1, Fernandez 0, Maconda 0
- Philippines with 70 points
Clarkson 21, Edu 9, Pogoy 8, Ramos 8, Sotto 8, Perez 7, Fajardo 4, Ravena 3, Abando 2, Aguilar 0, Malonzo 0, Thompson 0
Scores per quarter
- 12-19, 36-33, 56-52, 80-70