Ernesto Nodado III

Valiant efforts from Gilas Pilipinas went in vain at crunch time after falling short to the Dominican Republic, 87-81, in their first game of the 2023 FIBA World Cup inside the Philippine Arena, Friday.

Photo Courtesy of Marlo Cueto/

Gilas kept close with their foes all-game long until they struggled in the final moments—committing crucial turnovers and Jordan Clarkson, who dropped 28 points, fouled out with three minutes left.
Thanks to Clarkson's scoring machinery, the World No. 40 Philippines was only trailing by two World No. 23 Dominicans into the fourth quarter, 66-64, upping their hopes to deliver the ‘w’ at home. 
However, the lights began to dim for Gilas and the record-breaking 38,115 home crowd as their main scoring gun in Clarkson exited the scene while Karl Anthony Towns’ inside basket with four minutes remaining added insult to injury, 81-76. 
June Mar Fajardo tried to keep their winning chances afloat, slotting two charity shots at the 2:27 mark, backed up by AJ Edu’s free throw, trimming the deficit to two, 81-79.

But Victor Liz’ clutch layup and his squad’s defensive presses completely shut the doors for Gilas to escape the inevitable defeat.  

Timberwolves star Towns made his inside presence known, driving hard to the basket to fish fouls, with his masterful performance of 26 points and 10 rebounds while Victor Liz and Andres Feliz added 18 and 12 respectively. 

The narrow loss slimmed Gilas’ chances to advance in the next round as they will square off with World No. 43 Angola on Monday and World No. 10 Italy on Wednesday.