FOSHAN, China – Gilas Pilipinas' hopes of reaching the next round of the FIBA World Cup had been officially crushed after absorbing a 126-67 whipping from Serbia at the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center here on Monday, September 2.
The Philippines managed to keep it close against its heavily favored foes early but it did not take long for Serbia to pull away and eventually punch its ticket to the second round with its second win in Group D in as many games.
Serbia and Italy, which is similarly toting a 2-0 record, will move on to the round of 16, while winless Philippines and Angola will head to the classification stage, where they'll face the two bottom squads from Group C in Beijing.
CJ Perez followed up his impressive performance against Italy and put up a team-high of 16 points for the Philippines.
Paul Lee also scored 15 for Gilas Pilipinas, including the jump shot that gave the national side its only lead of the game at 9-7.
Serbia seized full command after that, unloading a back-breaking 21-4 run behind Nikola Jokic, Nemanja Bjelica, and Miroslav Raduljica to end the maiden quarter comfortably up by 15 points, 28-13.
June Mar Fajardo had 8 points and 6 rebounds while Robert Bolick and Japeth Aguilar chipped in 7 points each.
Sidelined in their win against Angola two days ago, Bjelica immediately made an impact for Serbia with 20 points off the bench, while Bogdan Bogdanovic delivered 17 points, 5 assists, and 2 steals.
NBA star Jokic finished with 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting clip on top of 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Philippines will look to end its campaign in Group D on a high note as it faces Angola on Wednesday, September 4, at the same venue.
Serbia 126 – Bjelica 20, Bogdanovic 17, Raduljica 13, Guduric 12, Jokic 11, Micic 11, Milutinov 10, Marjanovic 9, Simonovic 7, Bircevic 6, Jovic 6, Lucic 4.
Philippines 67 – Perez 16, Lee 15, Fajardo 8, Bolick 7, Aguilar 7, Ravena 5, Blatche 5, Rosario 2, Pogoy 2, Norwood 0, Almazan 0.
Quarters: 28-13, 62-35, 99-48, 126-67
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.