Serbia and Italy posted varying results in the four-team Acropolis International Basketball Tournament which wrapped up earlier this week in Athens, Greece.
The tourney, which served as a FIBA World Cup warm-up for Gilas Pilipinas' Group D foes, was swept by the Serbians. Italy, meanwhile, failed to win a single game in three matches.
Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Sacramento Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic (17 points) kickstarted Serbia's campaign with a convincing 87-72 win over Turkey before the two starred again in the next game where the team cruised to a 96-64 blowout over World Cup groupmate Italy.
Greece, led by 2018-19 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, proved to be a harder draw without the resting Jokic in the fold, but Serbia still managed to eke out an 85-80 win in overtime behind Bogdanovic (28 points) and Kings teammate Nemanja Bjelica (18 points and 14 boards). Antetokounmpo led the Greeks with 20 markers.
FIBA World Cup Team Preview: Italy
FIBA WC Preview: Italy
The Italians, meanwhile, appeared to be overmatched by their counterparts. Before that 32-point drubbing at the hands of Serbia, Italy had to watch Antetokounmpo (18 points, nine rebounds) rip them apart in 19 minutes for an 83-63 loss on opening day. Marco Belinelli led the team with 13 points but shot 0-for-8 on threes.
Italy also endured a dampener on the final day as Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman (20 points) and Turkey climbed back from a 13-point deficit entering the final quarter to escape with a 72-70 victory. Italy was led by 26 points from Alessandro Gentile, a 2014 draft pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves who has starred in the Italian League ever since.
Italy missed the services of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari, who underwent appendectomy.
Gilas Pilipinas will take on Italy first on August 31 before battling Serbia on September 2. Gilas will face Angola last in the group phase on September 4.