IT’S all over for the Philippines in the FIBA World Cup 2023.
A third straight defeat — 83-90 at the hands of world No. 10 Italy — all but ended the Filipinos’ hopes of advancing to the second round of the prestigious, 32-team competition where the world’s leading basketball-playing nations await.
Former NBA “Sixth Man of the Year” awardee Jordan Clarkson and crowd favorite Dwight Ramos delivered the much-needed baskets for the Filipinos in their make-or-break battle against the heavily-favored Italians.
Clarkson finished with 23 points on 8-of-20 shooting, seven rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes, while Ramos added 13 points, three assists, two rebounds, and two steals for the Filipinos, who tried to keep the game close and interesting despite the Italians’ hot three-point shooting.
But even Clarkson’s hard work all over the court, Ramos’ great support job and the boisterous cheers of 11, 821 fans were not enough to break the backs of the Italians and Clarkson’s Utah Jazz teammate Simone Fontecchio.
Fontecchio finished with 18 points, including three triples, and six rebounds, while Giampaolo Ricci added 14 points, with four three-pointers.
Italy’s 17 three-pointers also ended up as a World Cup team record, surpassing their previous record of 15 set in 2019, also against Philippines.
The Italians made only 20 percent from threes in their first two games against Angola and Dominican Republic before finally finding their shooting touch with 17-of-41 shooting for 41 percent.
One of those three-pointers was a buzzer-beating three by Alessandro Pajola that gave the I Italians a comfortable 73-60 advantage entering the payoff period.
With the win, Italy also took the No. 2 spot behind Group A frontrunner Dominican Republic in the second round , while relagating No. 3 Angola and the last-placed Philippines in the battle for the crumbs in the classification phase.
The Chot Reyes-mentored Filipinos also lost to world No. 23 Dominican Republic, 81-87, last Aug. 25, and world No. 42 Angola, 70-80, two days later.
Actually, the Filipinos needed to win by at least 12 points over the Italians to advance to the second round.
But except in the first quarter where they even took a 23-20 lead, the Filipinos never stood a chance.
With a 0-3 record, they will play the No. 3 and No.4 teama in Group B, which could either be Asian rival China or Puerto Rico or South Sudan.
Aside from Clarkson and Ramos, two other Filipinos had good scoring night.
Roger Pogoy added nine points, while Rhenz Abando contributed eight points, two rebounds, and a picture-perfect block for the Filipinos, who came charging back from a huge 18-point deficit early in the fourth period to threaten for the last time at 81-88, on a basket by Jamie Malonzo with still 1:43 remaining.
But like in their games against the Dominicans and Angolans, the Filipinos simply could not get the job done against the Italians.
Italy (90) — Fontecchio 18, Ricci 14, Spissu 13, Tonut 13, Pajola 11, Melli 10, Polonora 6, Datome 5, Severini 0.
Philippines (83) –Clarkson 23, Ramos 14, Pogoy 9, Abando 8, Edu 8, Ravena 8, Malonzo 7, Fajardo 4, Sotto 2, Thompson 0, Aguilar 0, Perez 0.
Quarterscores: 20-23; 48-39; 73-60; 90-83.