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Gilas Pilipinas loses opening game to Egypt in King Abdullah Cup

An ice-cold Gilas Pilipinas team opened its 2021 King Abdullah Cup campaign on the wrong foot after suffering a dismal 73-60 loss to Egypt on Monday (Manila time) at the Prince Hamzah Sport Hall in Amman, Jordan.

The Philippines trailed by as many as 14 and did not have enough in the tank to complete a comeback against the Egyptians, who handed the young Filipino a rude welcome to the pocket tournament.

Angelo Kouame led the charge for Gilas with a double-double of 13 points on 6-for-12 shooting, 11 rebounds and a block, and Isaac Go provided a good lift off the bench with 13 on 4-for-7 shooting, two triples and two rebounds.

The rest of Gilas, however, combined to make just 13-of-45 shots. The Nationals as a team shot a dismal 35 percent from the field, hit only 4-of-27 shots (14.8 percent) from deep and also went a subpar 10-for-29 (34 percent) from the free throw line.

Down by just two, 18-16, Gilas surrendered a 9-0 run sparked by Omar Arabei, who scored seven straight including a dunk that that pushed Egypt's advantage to 27-16 with 5:24 to go in the second quarter.

Gilas never truly recovered even after slowly crawling back from a 40-26 deficit in the third to make it somewhat close down the stretch.

An Isaac Go bucket helped the Philippines pull closer, 64-58, with 3:07 left, but Gilas only managed two more points as Egypt scored eight unanswered points over the next two minutes to clinch the opening win.

Dwight Ramos, now recovered from a groin injury that kept him off the Gilas roster in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Belgrade, Serbia early July, scored nine points but hit just 4-of-11 shots, though he did add five boards, four dimes and a block. Thirdy Ravena, meanwhile, added eight and eight rebounds off the bench.

Egypt, meanwhile, was led by Amro Mohammad Abd Alhalem, who tallied 14 points, five assists and four boards from the second unit. Arabei added 11 and four boards.

Gilas will look to rebound against Saudi Arabia Tuesday at 6 p.m. (Manila time).

Only the top four teams will move on to the knockout semifinals, and the winners will advance to the championship round.

THE SCORES

EGYPT 73 -- Alhalem 14, Arabei 11, Kamal 9, Hussin 6, Saleh 6, Shehata 6, Khlaf 6, Shosha 6, Ahmad 3, Elmekawy 2, Bakhet 2, Abdellatif 1, Abdelgawad 1.

PHILIPPINES 60 -- Kouame 13, Go 13, Ramos 9, Ravena 8, Belangel 6, Baltazar 4, Heading 3, Ildefonso 3, Navarro 1, Ma. Nieto 0, Chiu 0, Tamayo 0, Abarrientos 0.

Quarters: 13-12, 33-24, 55-43, 73-60.