By Adrian Stewart Co
Gilas Pilipinas failed to withstand Serbia’s finishing run to suffer an 83-76 defeat in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Wednesday night (Thursday in the Philippines) at the Belgrade Arena in Belgrade, Serbia.
The national men’s basketball team played catch up for most part of the game against the world No. 5 ranked Serbia before taking a 74-73 lead on a layup by Rhon Jay Abarrientos with over four minutes left.
Serbia, however, responded with back-to-back hits from 7-foot-3 center Boban Marjanovic to take a 77-74 lead, which Gilas Pilipinas trimmed to 76-77 on a basket by Justine Baltazar.
Gilas Pilipinas had opportunities to regain the lead following Serbia’s missed baskets but Angelo Kouame, Samjosef Belangel and Baltazar opted of three-point tries, which all did not went in.
Marjanovic gave Serbian’s an 81-76 lead with 36 seconds left on a perimeter hit before Danilo Andjusic secured the victory for the home team with two free throws.
Marjanovic, who plays for the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA, finished the game with double-double 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Ognjen Doboric added 16 markers for the Serbians.
Milos Teodosic, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers, chipped in 13 points, while Andjusic contributed 12 for Serbia, which secured a seat to the crossover semifinals with its 2-0 slate.
Kouame led the Gilas Pilipinas offense with 17 points, Jordan Heading added 15 markers, while Baltazar and Kai Sotto contributed 10 points apiece.
“I was very proud of the effort today. I wanted to play better than we played and I know that we can play better. And we will play better, but certainly the flow of the game was very competitive and we put in a great effort,” said Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin.
“Sometimes, particularly with a young team and a developing team, the occasion, it can be a bit bigger than we are. But that’s what the learning process is all about,” he added.
The national men’s basketball team is in a must-win situation on Thursday night (Friday morning in the Philippines) against Dominican Republic to keep their semifinals hopes alive.
SERBIA 83 – Marjanovic 25, Dobric 16, Teodosic 13, Andjusic 12, Petrusev 8, Davidovac 5, Milosavljevic 2, Jovic 2, Avramovic 0.
PHILIPPINES 76 – Kouame 17, Heading 13, Sotto 10, Baltazar 10, Abarrientos 9, Tamayo 5, Navarro 4, Go 4, Belangel 2, Nieto 2.
Quarterscores: 22-16, 45-34, 67-62, 83-76./ASC, WDJ