Gilas Pilipinas (GMA News photo courtesy)  

Gilas Pilipinas went down fighting against a physically imposing Senegal team, 63-72, Friday night at the Jiangman En Ping Sports gymnasium in the 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament,

The game witnessed a back-and-forth battle in the first half, with Gilas briefly taking a 45-40 lead early in the third quarter. However, Senegal responded with a dominant 10-0 run, regaining control and heading into the final quarter with a score of 56-53.

Gilas’ young big man, AJ Edu, initiated a promising start in the final period by scoring consecutive baskets, granting his team a momentary lead of 57-56. Unfortunately, this would be the last highlight for the Philippine team.

Senegal, the bronze medalist of the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket, utilized the clever playmaking skills of Brancou Badio and the formidable presence of their frontline to execute a decisive 14-4 surge, dampening the Philippines’ spirit.

Senegal continued its strong performance in the China pocket tournament, securing a second consecutive victory following a previous win against Iran B with a score of 85-75 on Wednesday.

Notably, Gilas also secured a triumph against Iran, defeating them 76-65 on Thursday.

As Gilas Pilipinas takes a break on Saturday, they are set to face Senegal once again the next day, aiming for a different outcome.

Consistent communication with Jordan Clarkson

In a separate development, Gilas coach Chot Reyes affirmed that he has been maintaining “constant communication” with Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson, who is poised to serve as the naturalized player for the Philippines.

Reyes revealed, “We have been in consistent communication, engaging in ongoing discussions.” He further disclosed this during his appearance on former PBA commissioner Noli Eala’s Power and Play sports program on Saturday.

The outspoken coach also shared that the NBA star, aged 31, has reassured him about his fitness level, stating that “he’s in good shape.” Reyes added, “Our conversations have encompassed offensive strategies, conceptual approaches, and team plans. Jordan has assured me that he’s actively working out and refining his skills.” (ai/mnm)