Gilas Pilipinas played their finest game to date in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Unfortunately, it still wasn’t enough.
The Filipino dribblers fought back from a 12-point fourth quarter deficit, but lost steam in overtime. They bowed to Angola, 81-84, Wednesday afternoon at the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center in Foshan, China.
Andray Blatche had his best game of the tilt so far with 23 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and two assists to lead Gilas.
CJ Perez – who has been Gilas’ top-scorer in the tournament – finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Fellow young gun Robert Bolick also did his part with 10 markers in the 10 minutes he saw action.
“Of course we’re still disappointed. But at the same time, it’s a good feeling that we were able to give ourselves a chance to win,” said coach Yeng Guiao. “We knew it was going to be a grind-out game; we knew it was going to be a hard game.”
Things actually looked bleak for Gilas when it fell down by 12, 49-61, with 8:41 to go in the fourth. The Filipinos then rallied and unloaded a 20-4 assault – capped by a Japeth Aguilar putback dunk – to take a 69-65 lead with 3:22 to go.
The Angolans, though, responded immediately. Yannick Morais manufactured six straight points to return advantage to the African powerhouse, 73-70, with only 52.7 seconds on the clock.
Perez then nailed a big triple with 33.7 seconds to go to tie the game up once more. He had a chance to win it but was apparently unaware of the 5.2 seconds left. The rookie could only hoist up a near-halfcourt shot that went airball.
Gilas came out aggressively in the extra period, and even took a 76-73 lead early after a Blatche split from the line. But Angola did not flinch as it made seven unanswered points to take an 80-76 edge with 2:27 left.
The Filipino dribblers still tried one last ditch, as Roger Pogoy hit a triple to lift his side to within two with 24.2 seconds to go. Unfortunately, Carlos Morais’ split with seven seconds left plus Kiefer Ravena’s missed trey spelled the end for Gilas.
“We lost this one on breaks, but I felt we had a really good chance to win it, especially in the fourth,” Guiao said.
Gilas shot 10-of-46 from the three-point line in the stinging defeat. But it won some departments, such as rebounding (53 to 50); fastbreak points (18-7); steals (9 to 4); bench points (38-33); and second chance points (19-8).
The Philippines finished the group stages with a 0-3 card. It will now head to the classification round that starts this Friday in Beijing, where it will face a familiar opponent in Iran and another African team in Tunisia.
The loss is also the first time that a Philippine team lost to an African side in the World Cup after a long while. It was carrying a three-game winning streak prior, the last of which was an 81-79 conquest of Senegal in the 2014 Worlds.
Valdelicio Joaquim led Angola (1-3) with 20 points. Four more players scored in double-figures in the win.
Philippines (81) – Blatche 23, Perez 17, Bolick 10, Pogoy 8, Aguilar 8, Ravena 6, Barroca 4, Dalistan 3, Fajardo 2, Rosario 0, Norwood 0, Almazan 0.
Angola (84) – Joaquim 20, Moreira 12, Moore 12, Morais 11, Conceicao 10, Paulo 6, Domingos 5, Goncalves 5, Antonio 3, Mbunga 3.
Quarterscores: 20-21, 34-38, 46-56, 73-73, 81-84.