BEIJING, China – It looks like there's no end in sight for Gilas Pilipinas' miseries in the FIBA World Cup following an 86-67 whipping from Tunisia in the classification round at the Wukesong Arena here on Friday, September 6.
Another lethargic start haunted the Philippines as it remained winless in 4 games, seeing its hopes of clinching an automatic berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics officially dashed.
Needing to win its last two games to have a crack at the top Asian team honor in the World Cup – which comes with an outright seat in the Summer Games – the Philippines no longer qualifies for the feat.
Andray Blatche churned out his usual numbers of 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 steals for the Philippines, but he did not have sufficient help as no other Filipino breached double figures.
Troy Rosario had his best game of the tournament with 8 points and 6 rebounds, Mark Barroca added 7 points, while CJ Perez and June Mar Fajardo chipped in 6 points apiece in the loss.
Despite being ranked 20 spots lower in the world rankings, Tunisia proved too good and too disciplined for the Philippines as it zoomed to a 6-0 start – a lead that swelled to 27-10 after the maiden period behind NBA player Salah Mejri.
Omar Abada paced Tunisia with 16 points, Mejri had 12 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 blocks, while Michael Roll, Mohamed Hadidane, and Makram Ben Romdhane combined for 33 points.
The loss also dented the Philippines' chances of securing a place in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Eight Olympic spots will be rewarded to the best finishing World Cup teams – Europe (2), Americas (2), Asia (1) Oceania (1), and Africa (1) – while 16 non-qualifying teams vie for the last 4 berths in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
That means the Philippines needs to land within the top 24, but as things stand, it sits at the bottom of Group N.
Based on the competition system, teams which place last in their classification groups will be ranked from 29th to 32nd.
Gilas Pilipinas seeks to end its World Cup campaign on a positive note against Asian rival Iran on Sunday, September 8, at the same venue.
Tunisia 86 – Abada 16, Roll 13, Mejri 12, Ben Romdhane 10, Hadidane 10, Mabrouk 8, Mouhli 6, Ghyaza 5, Slimane 3, Knioua 2, Abbassi 1, Chennoufi 0.
Philippines 67 – Blatche 24, Rosario 8, Barroca 7, Fajardo 6, Perez 6, Bolick 5, Ravena 5, Lee 3, Aguilar 2, Pogoy 1, Norwood 0, Almazan 0.
Quarters: 27-10, 46-24, 67-39, 86-67.
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.