Gilas Pilipinas bowed to Egypt, 73-58, in its 10th King Abdullah Cup opener, Monday night at the Prince Hamzah Sport Hall in Amman, Jordan.
Naturalized center Ange Kouame led the Filipino dribblers with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Isaac Go had 13 markers as well off the bench.
It was the 6-foot-8 Go who helped sparked the youth-laden crew’s late-game fightback, scoring seven in an 8-2 spurt that sliced a 12-point deficit to just half, 58-64, with less than three minutes remaining.
That, unfortunately, would be the closest that Gilas could get. The Egyptians responded with eight consecutive points, with Ali Ahmad’s triple serving as the exclamation point for a 72-58 lead with 41 ticks left to play.
Amro Mohammad Abd Alhalem led the perennial Afrobasket contenders with 14 points. Omar Saeed Arabei supported him with points.
Gilas actually ruled the boards, 50-43, but it only shot a measly 14-percent from beyond the arc by making just four of its 27 attempts. It also committed 15 turnovers, which the opposition converted to 22 points.
This was Gilas’ first game back since the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament-Belgrade, albeit with the addition of comebacking pool members.
Dwight Ramos has returned to action after sitting out the OQT due to a groin injury, He made nine points, five rebounds, four assists, and a block.
Thirdy Ravena is back with the national team as well. The Japan B.League import finished with eight markers and eight boards.
Others who have also rejoined the squad are Dave Ildefonso, Matt Nieto, and Rey Suerte, all of which have recovered from their respective injuries.
Gilas has a chance to atone for its opening night loss versus Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, July 27, at 6:00 p.m. (Manila time).
Gilas Pilipinas (60) — Kouame 13, Go 13, Ramos 9, Ravena 8, Belangel 6, Baltazar 4, Heading 3, Ildefonso 3, Navarro 1, Ma. Nieto 0, Chiu 0, Tamayo 0, Abarrientos 0.
Egypt (73) — Alhalem 14, Arabei 11, Kamal 9, Hussin 6, Saleh 6, Shehata 6, Khlaf 6, Shosha 6, Ahmad 3, Elmekawy 2, Bakhet 2, Abdellatif 1, Abdelgawad 1.
Quarterscores: 12-13, 24-33, 43-55, 60-73.