FOSHAN -- Gilas Pilipinas dropped its second game in a row in the group stage of the 2019 FIBA World Cup, losing to Serbia, 126-67, on Monday at the GBA International Sports and Cultural Center.
Unlike in the loss to Italy, the Philippines showed a lot more energy to start the game. Gilas was active on defense and created turnovers, even taking a two-point lead early. Serbia built a 15-point lead at the end of the first period, but CJ Perez and Robert Bolick provided Gilas some spark in the next frame to keep things interesting. Every time Serbia tried to pull away, Gilas would find a way to stay within distance.
But that didn't last very long.
Serbia, being the stronger, bigger and more powerful team, used an 18-2 run shortly after to create separation. The lead ballooned to 62-35 at halftime, and the Philippines was unable to recover and went on to absorb another tough loss as Gilas was officially relegated to the classification stage.
CJ Perez again led Gilas Pilipinas with 16 points, on 6-of-11 shooting, while Paul Lee chipped in 15.
"[It was a] tough loss. We did our job to make the game close, but I think Serbia is the number one team right now," said Lee. "[Heading into this game], coach told us to level up our game. We got our goal, but Serbia is too much for us."
Serbian coach Sasha Djordevic said the Philippine players "showed some talent and quickness" throughout the game, but in the end his team was too overpowering.
"Serbia is just too big, too good," said Gilas coach Yeng Guiao. "I feel they have a really good chance against the US and any of the top teams. We just played out there and tried to keep the game as close as we can for as long as we can."
The mission for Gilas was to convert on their outside attempts, but for the second straight game, they failed to find the target.
"We shot out of 4-of-24 on 3-points, and there's no way we can beat them inside the paint. They're a lot bigger and stronger than we are. Our only hope really was to make our outside shots, but we didn't."
Nemanja Bjelica paved the way for Serbia, going perfect from the field en route to 20 points, while fellow NBA player Nikola Jokic scattered 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Serbia (126) - Bjelica 20, Bogdanovic 17, Raduljica 13, Guduric 12, Jokic 11, Micic 11, Milutinov 10, Marjanovic 9, Simonovic 7, Bircevic 6, Jovic 6, Lucic 4.
Gilas Pilipinas (67) - Perez 16, Lee 15, Fajardo 8, Aguilar 7, Bolick 7, Blatche 5, Ravena 5, Pogoy 2, Rosario 2, Norwood 0, Almazan 0.
Quarterscores: 28-13, 62-35, 99-48, 126-67
-- PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and several members of the PBA Board were part of the crowd cheering for Gilas Pilipinas.
-- Andray Blatche scored just 5 points on 2 of 10 shooting. He fouled out in the last minute of the game.