The Philippines’ Gilas Pilipinas came up short against South Sudan Thursday night as the Nationals absorbed a 68-87 drubbing in the FIBA World Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
It was the fourth straight loss by Gilas Pilipinas in as many outings, dashing the hopes of the Nationals of cornering a slot for the 2024 Paris Olympics through the FIBA World Cup.
It may be harder but there is still one remaining option for the Chot-Reyes mentored Gilas Pilipinas but they must hurdle top-tier teams through FIBA Olympics Qualifying tournaments.
South Sudan came away with guns ablaze and the African Kings ripped through in the first two quarters, posting a huge 18-point advantage, 51-33, at the half.
Displaying the same intensity and tenacity that gave them a 20-point blowout, upset win over China 89-69 earlier, South Sudan seemingly had it so good in the first two quarters.
Given the opportunity and proper penetration through Gilas’ defense, South Sudan erected leads of as many as 21 points, 51-30, going into the final two minutes of play in the first half.
Compared to Gilas Pilipinas’ 4 of 13 shooting average from beyond the arc, South Sudan made nine 9 of 17 tries from beyond the perimeter.
But with Kai Sotto manning the boards well in the third canto, Gilas Pilipinas prevented Sudan from ripping the game wide open, and instead, the hosts trimmed the huge deficit down only four (4) points 56-60 capped with a Sotto slam.
However, it was the closest they got as Sudan responded by padding the lead comfortably back to a double-digit edge, 72-61, with 4:31 remaining.
The possibility remains for Gilas to secure a berth in the Paris Olympics.
The Philippine squad is familiar with this setup, having participated in 2016 and 2020.
A total of 24 teams will contend across four Olympic qualifying tournaments.
However, this presents a formidable challenge, as Gilas would need to outperform numerous top-tier global teams to secure one of the four available slots.
This is the reason why securing the slot in the FIBA World Cup is a tall order as it eliminates the need to tread the needle’s eye.
But luck was not on Gilas’ side all throughout its previous four outings.
The last assignment for Gilas in the FIBA World Cup is against China on Saturday considered as a no-bearing game.
South Sudan waylaid China by 20 points a few days ago but it retains its place as the 27th-ranked team in the world.
On the other hand, Gilas holds the 40th spot.