MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas suffered its first loss in Spain at the hands of Congo, 71-82, in the Torneo de Malaga at the Jose Maria Martin Carpena Arena on Friday, August 9 (Saturday, August 10, Philippine time).
Robert Bolick waxed hot for 21 points on a 7-of-9 shooting to go with 6 rebounds but the Filipinos could not reassert their mastery on the Congolese, whom they beat by 22 points in their first encounter in Guadalajara.
The Philippines was still within striking distance midway through the final quarter, 60-63, until Congo found its mark from long range to stage a 13-1 run that padded its lead to 15 points.
Ron Mvouika scored 8 points during that crucial stretch, including two big three-pointers, to wound up with 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in the win.
Andray Blatche chalked up 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists for the Philippines, while CJ Perez added 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Paul Lee chipped in 8 points and Mark Barroca and Japeth Aguilar contributed 6 points each in the defeat that saw the Filipinos squander a nine-point lead in the first half, 20-29.
Gilas fielded only 9 of its 11 players with Gabe Norwood continuing to nurse a mild groin injury and Kiefer Ravena still serving his suspension from FIBA, which will end on August 24.
With the loss, the Philippines will not face powerhouse Spain, which blew past Ivory Coast, 79-62, in their respective match.
The Spanish squad was bannered by NBA players Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, and brothers Willy and Juancho Hernangómez.
Since the four-nation pocket tournament has a winner-versus-winner and loser-versus-loser format, the Filipinos will tangle with the Ivorians on Saturday, August 10 (Sunday, August 11, Philippine time). – Rappler.com
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.