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Gilas Boys struggle without Alas, fall to Lithuania in FIBA U-17 World Cup opener


By: Ernest Tuazon

Offense became an instant worry for Gilas Pilipinas Boys, who are without top scorer Kieffer Alas due to a knee injury, as they began their run in the 2024 FIBA Under-17 World Cup on Saturday, June 29.

The No. 37-ranked Philippines was crushed by the world’s 10th best U-17 squad Lithuania, absorbing a wire-to-wire 107-48 loss at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Turkey.

Gilas shot a poor 21.9 percent from the field, compared to Lithuania’s efficient 53.5 percent shooting split.

Alas, who made the FIBA Asia U-16 All-Star Five last year, was ruled out for the Worlds after sustaining a sprained left ACL in their tune-up game against Canada prior to the start of the tournament’s pool play.

The Philippines was held scoreless for nearly five minutes as Lithuania mounted a 12-0 run to open the fourth quarter with an insurmountable 93-36 lead.

Nine of Gilas Boys’ 12 points in the fourth quarter came in the dying minutes of their World Cup opener courtesy of three straight long bombs by Iris Chua and Noah Banal.

CJ Amos was the lone Gilas Boys player in double digits with 10 points and three rebounds, while Velasquez chipped in eight markers.

Lithuania was paced by the 22-point, nine-rebound performance of Arturas Butajevas, who received ample offensive support from Kajus Mikalauskas (15) and Erikas Sirgedas (14).

2024-FIBA-U17-World-Cup-Gilas-vs-Lithuania-Joaquin-Ludovice Gilas Boys struggle without Alas, fall to Lithuania in FIBA U-17 World Cup opener Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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Five of the seven third-quarter Philippine points came from Elijah Williams, while the other two came from a layup by UST’s Kurt Velasquez.

Making matters worse for Gilas was Edryn Morales was saddled with foul trouble the entire game.

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The Lithuanians raced to an early 15-4 lead over Gilas.

Despite the Philippines’ offensive efforts, Lithuania’s opening run allowed them to gain a 10-point lead after one, 23-13.

During the second stanza, an and-one layup by Bonn Daja trimmed Lithuania’s lead to single digits, 34-25, but the Lithuanians utilized a 12-4 finishing kick to extend their lead to 46-29 at the half.

Lithuania virtually sealed their first win in the tournament’s group play with a 35-7 third quarter demolition of Gilas, gaining an 81-36 lead heading to the payoff period.

Gilas Boys will next face powerhouse Spain on Sunday at 10:30 p.m. at the same venue.

The Scores:

Lithuania 107 Butajevas 22, Mikaluaskas 15, Sirgedas 14, Buika 12, Bulanovas 10, Deniusas 7, Vilkas 7, Liutkevicius 6, Strelciunas 4, Pocius 1, Norutis 0.

Philippines 48 – Amos 10, Daja 7, Banal 6, Morales 5, Williams 5, Chua 3, Ludovice 2, Diao 2, Alegre 0, Gomez de Liano 0, Arejola 0.

Quarterscores: 23-13, 46-29, 81-36, 107-48.

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