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MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas played sans Jordan Clarkson and dropped its final tune-up game before the FIBA World Cup, absorbing an 84-77 loss to Mexico at the PhilSports Arena on Monday, August 21.
The Utah Jazz star sat out the match as the Philippines closed out its three-game exhibition slate at home with a 1-2 record, cruising to an 85-62 rout of Ivory Coast then suffering a 102-85 defeat to Montenegro.
Even without Clarkson, though, the Filipinos showed fight early as they grabbed a 46-41 lead off a Kai Sotto free throw and ended the half even with the Mexicans, 51-51.
But the Philippines shot itself by failing to take care of the ball, coughing up 7 of its 13 turnovers in the third quarter and allowing Mexico to seize a 69-63 advantage.
Playing catchup throughout the final salvo, Gilas Pilipinas pulled within 72-77 with three minutes left off a Dwight Ramos three-pointer only to witness Mexico close it out with a 7-3 run capped by 5 straight Pako Cruz points.
Scottie Thompson showed the way with 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists for the Filipinos, who finished their World Cup buildup with a 7-6 card.
The Philippines compiled a 3-3 slate in its European trip where it battled teams from Finland, Estonia, Ukraine, and Lithuania then posted a 3-1 record against Senegal and Iran in a pocket tournament it joined in China.
No other Gilas Pilipinas scored in double figures as it missed the offensive firepower provided by Clarkson.
Ramos put up 9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks, Roger Pogoy fired 9 points, while Sotto and Jamie Malonzo chimed in 8 points apiece.
Kiefer Ravena had 7 points and June Mar Fajardo tallied 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Cruz paced Mexico with 18 points, while Paul Stoll (17), Fabian Jaimes (15), and Josh Ibarra (12) all finished in twin-digit scoring.
Mexico will play in Group D against Montenegro, Lithuania, and Egypt at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Bunched in Group A, the Philippines has a couple of days to fine-tune its World Cup preparations before it opens its campaign against Dominican Republic on August 25 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Mexico 84 – Cruz 18, Stoll 17, Jaimes 15, Ibarra 12, Borilla 6, Giron 6, I. Gutierrez 4, Andriasi 3, Camacho 3, J. Gutierrez 0, Arrigo 0.
Philippines 77 – Thompson 14, Ramos 9, Pogoy 9, Malonzo 8, Sotto 8, K. Ravena 7, Newsome 6, Fajardo 6, Perez 4, Edu 3, Aguilar 3, Abando 0.
Quarters: 31-27, 51-51, 69-63, 84-77.