WHERE does Gilas Pilipinas go from here?
After two straight blowout losses that ended their hopes of advancing to the next round, this game might serve as the saving grace for the nationals.
Gilas battles fellow also-ran Angola today in the 2019 FIBA World Cup at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Arena in Foshan, China.
The Group D match is set at 3:30 o’clock before unbeaten teams Serbia and Italy clash for the lead at 7:30 p.m.
The Filipino dribblers absorbed a 67-126 drubbing at the hands of world No. 4 Serbia last Sept. 2 that relegated them to the classification stage of the prestigious 32-nation joust.
After its game against the Angolans, ranked No. 39, Gilas will travel to Beijing for the classification phase.
Angola will go into the game smarting from a 61-92 beating administered by Italy also last Sept. 2.
His squad is ranked five rungs higher but Gilas coach Yeng Guiao expects a tough battle against Angola.
“It’s going to be really tight. I feel Angola is a strong team, and Italy and Serbia are just in a class by themselves and not at our level. But I guess Angola and the Philippines would be a good matchup.
Angola also has the size, actually. They also have the strength, they have the veterans,” Guiao was quoted as saying by online sports portal ESPN 5.
“Some of those players have played Euroleague and Division 1 basketball, actually. So it’s going to be a tough matchup for us, especially coming from these tough two losses. We have to lift up the spirits of the guys to be able to play well in the next game,” he added.
Unlike in its horror 62-108 defeat to Italy in its opener last Aug. 31, Gilas showed some flashes of brilliance and even led 9-7 on a Paul Lee jumper early on but slowly faded in the face of the Serbs’ relentless attack.
Serbia took a 62-35 spread at the half and did not look back from there.
Sacramento Kings teammates Nemanja Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic led the Serbs with 20 and 17 points, respectively.
Miroslav Raduljica, Vasilije Micic, Nikola Milutinov, and Denver Nuggets All-Star Nikola Jokic also had 12, 11, and 11 points, respectively.
Gilas rookie CJ Perez paced the Philippine five with 16 points with Lee adding 15. Naturalized big man Andray Blatche was held to just five points as he was saddled with foul trouble.