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MANILA, Philippines — It might not get any easier for Gilas Pilipinas.
While the Philippines remained winless, China finally scored a breakthrough win in the FIBA World Cup after tripping Angola, 83-76, at the start of the classification phase on Thursday night, August 31.
“It feels great. It’s obviously a bit of a tough blow but we’ve been working hard,” said Kyle Anderson, the naturalized NBA player who goes by Li Kaier in China, after the Dragons snapped a three-game skid.
“I think our guys deserve this. It was a great win, I think our fans deserve it also.”
Gilas Pilipinas – which dropped to 0-4 after an 87-68 loss to South Sudan – will wrap up its campaign against China at 8 pm on Saturday, September 2, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Anderson said the Dragons’ full effort for the entire 40-minute game against Angola keyed their first tournament win.
“That’s the very key to success and victories here… we will try to go out and do the same against the Philippines,” said Anderson.
China got a big scoring boost from its bench, pumping in 43 points against their African opponents in the crucial win that kept the Dragons in the running for the lone Asian spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Japan, though, holds the inside track, leading all Asian teams with two triumphs. While China and Lebanon finally recorded wins, they still stand very much behind in point differential – the main factor in tiebreakers.
Japan stayed ahead of the race for the Paris Games ticket after a spirited comeback win against Venezuela, 86-77, also on Thursday night for their second win.
Still, Anderson and China still aim to give themselves a shot at the Olympics by beating Gilas.
Anderson will reprise another showdown with Philippine naturalized player and Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson, whom he had been playing against since college, and in the NBA’s Western Conference, where the two are playing.
“It’s gonna be a good game, they’ve got some good players… I’ve been watching them all tournament,” said Anderson, who plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“They’re the home team, they’ve got the crowd on their side… hostile environment. Very fun. I like those types of games.” — Rappler.com