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Gilas Pilipinas battles powerhouse Serbia

Gilas Pilipinas faces another daunting task as it meets Serbia in the preliminary round of the 2019 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup today at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Arena in China.

The game is set at 7:30 p.m. Gilas suffered a 62-108 horror defeat to Italy in its first game on Saturday night.

All hopes of reaching the next round after the preliminary round are not lost yet with two more games left although the Philippines has a very huge mountain to scale when it plays the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Serbia — a stronger opponent than Italy.

Serbia, which ranks No. 4 in the FIBA world, shot 65 percent (13-of-20) from beyond the three-point zone in routing first World Cup assignment Angola (105-59) in Group D.

National Basketball Association players Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Bogdan Bogdanovic of the Sacramento Kings notched 14 and 24 points respectively with a combined eight three-pointers against Angola.

Rookie CJ Perez goes for a layup against Jeff Brooks of Italy during the group stage of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in Foshan, China. FIBA.COM PHOTO

The 7’3 Boban Marjanovic of the Philadelphia 76ers also added 12 points and 10 rebounds and 7’0 center Nikola Milutinov also had 14 points.

And that’s a major problem the Filipinos are going to deal with against the 1998 and 2002 World Cup champion Serbia.

“Certainly, that’s a big worry especially with their (Serbia) bigs are also being able to shoot those threes. Jokic and the rest of those guys can shoot anywhere on the floor,” said Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao during the FIBA post game news conference on Saturday night.

“So if we have a problem with Italy, that it is also going to be the same problem, probably even worst problem with Serbia.”

The Filipinos just shot a measly 3-of-23 from the three-point area compared to Italy’s 15-of-31.

Naturalized Andray Blatche led the Filipinos with 15 points and 10 rebounds but suffered nine turnovers against Italy, while CJ Perez added 15 points too and June Mar Fajardo added nine points and six rebounds in addition to his two steals.

Guiao added that they have to move on after the forgettable loss to the Azzurri in Group D play.

“We have a day to find some adjustments, make some improvements, so we’ll see on Monday. But I guess, we just have to gather ourselves again and be able to recover physically and be able to find additional motivation to play Serbia,” added Guiao.

Another loss in Group D will jeopardize Gilas campaign of moving into the next round.

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