Gilas Ends FIBA World Cup Stint After Yielding to Hot-Shooting Italy

By: Jerod Orcullo, Marvin Isidro Jr., Aulyn Gwen Bergado
August 30, 2023

Eriel John Edu of Gilas giving his best for the nation against Italy at the final game of the Philippines for this year's FIBA World Cup. Photo courtesy of FIBA Philippines.

The stars simply did not align for Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup journey as they exit the qualifiers in a lackluster manner with an upset dealt by world no. 10 Italy, carving out a 83-90 heartbreaker yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The loss pushed Gilas at the bottom of the Group A standings with a 0-3 slate and it also signifies that they will not be advancing to the second round. 

The Chot Reyes-led squad will be playing in the classification phase where they will be facing China and either Puerto Rico or South Sudan.

Jordan Clarkson continued to spearhead Gilas’ offense with 23 points, seven boards, and six assists backed by Dwight Ramos and his 14 markers, four rebounds, and three dimes.

RR Pogoy contributed to the contest as he finished with a solid nine points while the trio of Kiefer Ravena, Rhenz Abando, and AJ Edu all had eight.

Both teams came out firing on all cylinders from the get-go as the two squads kept close, trading basket after basket culminated by a buzzer beating jumper from Junemar Fajardo to end the quarter, 23-20.

Italy continued their barrage led by the hot shooting of Clarkson’s Utah Jazz teammate, Simone Fontecchio, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half to give the Azzurri a comfortable nine-point cushion headed to the dugouts.

Gianmarco Pozzecco’s squad picked up from where they left off as they played well on both ends of the floor to widen the margin even further to sway the hopes of Filipino fans in attendance. 

As the clock dwindled down, Gilas looked to fight with renewed energy as they pushed for a late game rally as after a steal and a quick dish to Jamie Malonzo the lead was cut to seven with less than two minutes to go.

Yet, as luck would have it, these efforts were to no avail as Italy ultimately found a way to fend off the valiant effort of the Filipinos to book their ticket to the second round, 83-90.

Fontecchio paced Azzurri with 18 markers on top of six boards, an assist and a steal while getting ample help from Giampaolo Ricci who churned out 14. 

Marco Spissu and Stefano Tonut also logged 13 points apiece. 


The scores: 

Quarter scores: 23-20, 39-48, 60-73, 83-90.

Italy 90 – Fontecchio 18, Ricci 14, Spissu 13, Tonut 13, Pajola 11, Melli 10, Polonara 6, Datome 5, Severini 0.

Gilas Pilipinas 83 – Clarkson 23, Ramos 14, Pogoy 9, Abando 8, Edu 8, Ravena 8, Malonzo 7, Fajardo 4, Sotto 2, Aguilar 0, Perez 0, Thompson 0.