FOSHAN, China -- During their pre-game huddle in the dugout, Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao told the players that their best chance of beating Italy is if they execute their game plan, knock down their 3-point shots and limit their turnovers.
Unfortunately, that's exactly what Gilas failed to do in the first quarter on Saturday. The Italian national team came out hot and thumped the Philippines 108-62 in Group D action in the FIBA World Cup.
Gilas couldn't connect on any outside shots in the opening period, going 0-of-7 from 3-point land, and also committed eight turnovers as Italy jumped out to a 37-8 lead. Italy punished Gilas from beyond the arc with Daniel Hackett, Luigi Datome and Danilo Gallinari each making two triples during that stretch that pretty much sealed the fate of the Philippines in their opener. All in all Gilas shot 3-for-23 from 3-point land, compared to 15-for-31 for the Azzurri.
Guiao said the poor 3-point shooting and unforced errors early in the game led to their downfall.
"We knew we were coming into this game as underdogs. We would have wanted to play it in a better way, and even if we lose, we would have wanted to play better than we did. The problem was we had early turnovers, we fed their runs with our turnovers, and we couldn't make our own shots which I think was key to beating a team like Italy," said Guiao.
"On the other hand (on defense), they kept switching us. Their guards could guard our bigs, and their bigs could guard our guards. It was really a dead end for us, especially if you're not making your three-point shots."
"Italy is a really good team. They have size at the guard positions, which we don't have and they have quickness in their bigs, which we also don't have. It's really important in the international game to have that size and that quickness," said Guiao. "They move the ball really well. Anywhere the ball lands is a threat," he added.
Andray Blatche and CJ Perez led Gilas in scoring with 15 points each, while June Mar Fajardo added nine. Italy, which made 48-percent of their three-point attempts, got a combined 34 points from Datome and Amedeo Della Valle. Gallinari finished with 16 markers.
Italy (108) - Datome 17, Dela Valle 17, Gallinari 16, Belinelli 9, Tessitori 9, Biligha 8, Brooks 8, Filloy 7, Hackett 7, Gentile 6, Abbas 2, Vitali 2.
Gilas (62) - Blatche 15, Perez 15, Fajardo 9, Bolick 6, Ravena 5, Aguilar 2, Almazan 2, Barroca 2, Pogoy 2, Rosario 2, Lee 2, Norwood 0.
Quarters: 37-8, 62-24, 85-39, 108-62
Gilas last played Italy in a pocket tournament in 2016 as prep for their FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The Philippines lost that game by 36 points.
Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte flew to Foshan after his state visit in Beijing to watch the Gilas-Italy game. Before tipoff, he dropped by the locker room of the Philippine national team and wished the players good luck.