By Cesare Milanti / email@example.com
MANILA, Philippines – It’s the day of upsets in Manila, with the benefit of Karl-Anthony Towns. Despite trailing in the first quarter off to a powerful start from the hosts in front of the Smart Araneta Coliseum firing crowd, Angola came back and beat the Philippines 80-70.
Making some damage to Italy’s frontcourt, Bruno Fernando had a great showing against the Philippines as well, ending with 12 points and 5 rebounds. The 27-year-old Gerson Domingos took care of business conducting the Angolan offense with 6 assists while adding 15 points to the boxscore. Gerson Goncalves, instead, powered up 17 points and 6 rebounds.
“I think it’s important to understand that in Africa it’s not easy to reach this stage and to make it to the Olympics. If we lose today, we are out of the Olympic Games. We are betting for the young guys, who will be here for the next 10 years. This win is very important. My players are very responsible, and at the end of the day, it’s only a game”, coach Canals said in the post-game press conference.
As expected, Jordan Clarkson led the Philippine national team once again with 21 points, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists despite a rough shooting night with 7/21 from the field and 1/7 from deep. Right after the morning shootaround, he said to Eurohoops they wanted “to put on a show tonight”.
“We did get off to a nice lead early, but we knew Angola was going to make a comeback. If you can’t put enough points on the board, you just lose. The goal is to get to the Olympic Games. The hope is still alive. We were 16 down and we still didn’t give up, we made the game towards the end. They didn’t shoot too well as well, but it was just a killer-blows winning matter”, coach Chot Reyes said after the loss.
Despite an 11-0 run by the Philippines to come back at 73-68 with 1:12 minutes left in the game, Angola managed to keep itself afloat, bringing home the victory in front of the 12.784 people in the stands of the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Following the results in the second day of action in Group B, the Dominican Republic stands still with a 2-0 record, while Italy is trailing at 1-1 being victim of the clash with Karl-Anthony Towns and his teammates. Winning tonight, Angola is right behind the Italian national team with 1-1 as well but considering their first loss in the debuting game. The Philippines are at the bottom, winless.
PHOTO CREDIT: 2023 FIBA World Cup