Gilas Pilipinas falters vs. Dominican Republic at FIBA World Cup opener

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas played a hard-fought game in the FIBA World Cup 2023 opener but lost in the hands of the unfazed Dominican Republic, 87-81, in front of 38,115 basketball-crazy fans on August 25, 2023 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Despite the height disadvantage, Gilas Pilipinas was able to control the ball well and jotted its first digits on the scoreboard early in the opener. Jordan Clarkson started the game cold and missed a few buckets while his fellow NBA-player, Karl Anthony Towns carried Dominican Republic almost single handedly in the first quarter.

Jordan Clarkson dropped 28 points but fouled out mid of the 4th quarter
Jordan Clarkson dropped 28 points but fouled out mid of the 4th quarter that cost Gilas Pilipinas a loss. Photo Credit: FIBA

Dwight Ramos and AJ Edu paved the way for the Philippines to grab an early lead. But the advantage was just momentary as Towns started to wax hot from all angles and closed the opening chapter with a slim 22-18 lead in favor of the visiting team.

Clarkson might have had an off first 10 minutes, but come the second quarter, the Utah Jazz guard began to match Town’s intensity offensively and snatched the lead from the Dominicanos.

Gilas’ offense abruptly slowed down mid-second period; luckily, Dominican Republic displayed the same shooting performance for a long-time deadlock.

The crowd went wild after both squads exchanged slam dunks in the dying seconds of the second period. But it was Rhenz Abando’s two-handed baseline jam that ended the first half and tied the game at 42 apiece.

Towns might have slowed down from scoring, but his compatriot, Victor Liz took over the offensive chores in the latter part of the second and carried on the penultimate quarter.

After 15 stalemates, the Philippines finally accelerated in the third period, still, courtesy of Clarkson and Ramos who were both in double figures with over 2 minutes remaining.

The Minnesota Timberwolves Center woke up at last after a long hibernation. But his momentum was thwarted after he was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on Clarkson. Despite the unfortunate event, Dominican Republic led the host squad, 66-64 entering the final canto.

Seesaw battle between the two feisty squads started in the fourth quarter. But Gilas was in an unpleasant situation as the Filipinos put themselves in early penalty with over 6 minutes left on the game clock combined with back-to-back triples from the Dominicanos.

Surprisingly, Kai Sotto was seen in very limited minutes in the game and without even a half-shot on his stat sheet. Gladly, June Mar Fajardo helped Edu man the middle against Towns.

Philippines’ woes piled up as Clarkson committed his 5th personal foul with 3:35 left and left the floor with 28 big points.

Hopes of victory drastically slipped away from Gilas Pilipinas right after Clarkson’s exit due to foul disqualification. The nationals tried to salvage a win but Dominican Republic made sure that there would be no upset, closed the book at the score of 87-81, and a sweet 1-0 W-L record on top of Group A standings along with Team Italy.

Gilas Pilipinas will try to re-group and prepare for another face-off against the more athletic Team Angola on Sunday, August 27, 2023.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

Add a comment here (0)
Previous Post Next Post