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Gilas Pilipinas Dominated by Italy in 108-62 Loss at 2019 FIBA World Cup

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 31, 2019

Serbia's Boban Marjanovic, left, tries to block Italy's Luigi Datome, right, during their Eurobasket European Basketball Championship quarterfinal match in Istanbul, Wednesday, Sept. 13. 2017. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

Italy cruised to a dominant 108-62 victory Saturday over the Philippines at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Center in China during the first day of action in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.  

Luigi Datome connected on all seven of his shots from the field to lead all players with 17 points, a total matched by Amedeo Della Valle. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari added 16 points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals for the Italians.

Former NBA center Andray Blatche recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards for the Philippines, but he also turned the ball over nine times and picked up four fouls in 31 minutes.

Any potential drama was quickly erased as Italy used a 19-0 run to build a 37-8 lead after the first quarter. The Azzurri shot 72 percent from the field in the first half.

Gilas Pilipinas were hoping to showcase progress after posting a 1-4 record in the 2014 World Cup leading to elimination after the group stage.

"I've been an underdog almost my whole life so it's OK. It's great to shock people," Blatche told reporters last week. "Our main focus is to get two wins. We got one win in the last World Cup. This time, our main goal is to get two wins and advance."

Saturday's performance suggests making it out of Group D, which also features a championship contender in Serbia as well as Angola, will be an uphill battle.

Along with their struggles at the defensive end, Gilas also made just three of their 23 three-point attempts.

Both teams will return to action Monday when Italy will take on Angola and the Philippines face another difficult test against Serbia.

Gilas Pilipinas are going to need a massive upset to keep their chances to advance alive.