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MANILA, Philippines — The Dominican Republic’s promising run in the 2023 FIBA World Cup came into a screeching halt when they encountered a buzzsaw in Serbia, missing a final phase berth as they lost by 33, 112-79, on Sunday, September 3.
After the game, an emotional Karl-Anthony Towns welled up with the hope of making his home country proud after doubts were cast against their world No. 23 team.
“I hope that we brought hope to a country that was told that coming here we wouldn’t be anything, and we would be kind of in those games that you could win,” Towns said after the game.
“I hope we showed the girls and boys back home that our country’s full of basketball talent and we are one of the best countries in the world for basketball,” he added.
“We showed anything’s possible. We showed everything’s possible.”
Playing with a sense of desperation after a two-point loss to Italy, the Serbians made the Dominicans cough the ball 21 times, too high a figure for any team.
The Serbians were also clinical on offense, nailing 43-of-66 field goals off 30 assists, with the lead ballooning to as many as 38 in the second half.
Towns submitted 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting, along with 7 rebounds, but the Serbian defense forced 7 turnovers against the multiple-time NBA All-Star.
His effort earned the admiration of the 6,616 spectators, who cheered Towns when he was subbed out with about three minutes left in the game.
“I mean, it means a lot to be respected. Something that I feel I don’t get much back home,” lamented Towns.
“It was moving to feel respected. It meant a lot, it’s something I don’t get much.”
He was also appreciative of the opportunity to represent an “amazing” nation.
“We’re blessed, I’m blessed, personally speaking. I had a mother die that blessed me into the best country in the world, to the best coaches, to the best people I’ve ever met,” said Towns.
“I’m very honored and blessed to get a chance to wear this jersey and play for the name in front.”
Not ready to go home, he admits the lost stung extra.
“I want to be with my guys, I want to be able to hang out with them, I want to be able to laugh with them, to have more moments. It was devastating to not be able to play basketball with these guys.” — Rappler.com