Denzel Jed Gaddi

Gilas Pilipinas’ struggle to gain winning form led to a bitter elimination against Italy, 90-83, in Group A of the FIBA World Cup at the Araneta Coliseum, Tuesday.

Photo Courtesy of FIBA Basketball

In a bid to secure the runner-up position in Group A, the Philippines needed to win with a margin of at least 12 points to advance to the next round but proved no match against the top 10 team in the world.

Jordan Clarkson’s Jazz teammate Simone Fontecchio steered Azzurri with 18 points and 6 rebounds while Nicolo Melli contributed 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists.

Concurrently, the former NBA 6th man of the year came through with 23 points, 6 assists, and 7 rebounds while Dwight Ramos chipped in 14 points.

Both teams battled tightly in the first quarter through a shower of shots from downtown, but the Italians had the last say with a scoring burst in the second period to end the half leading 48-39.

The Italians commanded a lead of up to 18 points midway through the fourth period, 80-62, behind Nicolo Meli’s flawless shot attempts. Gilas tried to punch an energetic comeback effort, cutting the lead down to seven with 1:43 left.

Alessandro Pajora’s free throws sealed the second spot for Italy in group A, sitting behind Karl Anthony Towns-led Dominican Republic which concluded with a 3-0 record.

“We couldn’t ask for more. We just came up short, but we continued to fight. That’s all we can do,” Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said after the game.

The Filipino team is the first host team since Columbia in 1982 to finish the preliminaries with no victory.

Meanwhile, aloss for all Asian teams will result in a chance for the Philippines to secure a Paris Olympic berth, dedicated only to the top-performing team in Asia.

Edited by Diana Mae Salonoy