Gilas Pilipinas national team felt the strong firepower of international basketball competition for the second time, losing by a mile to a National Basketball Association (NBA)-laden Italy national squad 70-106 during a pocket tournament on Sunday at the Paladozza in Bologna, Italy.
Gilas participated in the pocket tournament to hone its skills before competing in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying tournament set on July 5 to 10 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Filipino cagers experienced a glimpse of European and international style of basketball, which they would experience when they compete against Canada, France, Turkey, Senegal and New Zealand in the upcoming qualifiers.
Naturalized Filipino 6’11 center Andray Blatche sizzled with 21 points plus six rebounds and four assists but committed six errors due to Italy’s pesky defense. Terrence Romeo and forward Troy Rosario delivered 10 points apiece, while Jayson Castro added nine points for team Philippines.
Italy, headed by Denver Nuggets’ Danilo Gallinari, used a blitzing 22-0 run in the first five minutes of play and establish an insurmountable 40-7 lead in the first quarter. Obviously, the Filipinos were surprised by the hot shooting performance and fast-paced game of the Italians.
Gallinari finished with 20 points, while Sacramento Kings’ shooting guard Marco Belinelli and Brooklyn Net’s forward Andrea Bargnani scored 11 and six points, respectively, to lead the Italians, who shot 10-of-16 in the three-point territory.
Gilas shot 7-of-20 in the three-point territory.
The Filipinos will face China on Sunday in their last game in that pocket tournament before going back home next week. The Chinese were smothered by the Canadian team (69-95), on the other hand.
Gilas Pilipinas lost to Turkey 68-103 also during a tune-up game in Istanbul, Turkey last week before proceeding to Italy.
JOSEF T. RAMOS