Serbia, USA, Dominican Republic sweep FIBA World Cup groups; Gilas tumble with no win

QUEZON CITY – Serbia completed its domination of Group B play in the FIBA World Cup after manhandling South Sudan, 115-83, on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Dominican Republic completed a 3-0 sweep of Group A play in the FIBA World Cup after beating Angola, 75-67, on Tuesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Gilas Pilipinas, meanwhile, failed in its first shot at outright Paris Olympics qualification after bowing to Italy, 90-83, in their FIBA World Cup game on Tuesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Luckily for Gilas, the race to Paris remains wide open after Japan lost in its own shot at making the Top 16 with a 109-89 Australia win at the Okinawa Arena

Gilas was relegated to the lower bracket of the competition, or the classification phase.

Needing to win by at least 12 points to clinch an upper bracket seat, Gilas looked poised to pull off an upset against the World No. 10 Italy as it took a 23-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

However, Italy responded with a 28-16 second quarter to go up, 48-39, at the half then stretched the lead to as much as 78-60, with 8:27 left in the match.

Gilas closed the game strong, but just enough to cut Italy’s lead to a respectable margin.

Later, Gilas Pilipinas’ dream of booking an Olympic spot was shut down after losing to South Sudan, 87-68, in the classification round of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Thursday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Jordan Clarkson was Gilas’ leading scorer again with 24 points to go four rebounds and three assists.

Meanwhile, Luka Doncic and the Slovenia men’s basketball team will be heading to the Philippines as they booked slots for the 2023 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals to be played here in Manila by defeating Australia, 91-80, in their Okinawa, Japan match.

Earlier, Germany beat Georgia, 100-73, to get also their fourth win.

In other World Cup games in Jakarta, Latvia completed an upset against defending champions Spain, 74-69, while Brazil won against Canada, 69-65.

The Philippines unleashed a 6-0 run at the start of the final quarter, highlighted by a two-handed Kai Sotto slam off an AJ Edu lob, to cut the deficit to four points.

But a couple of three-pointers by South Sudan’s Nuni Omot put the nail in the coffin as the Central African nation built a commanding edge.

Dwight Ramos registered a double double performance for the winless Gilas with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

In the earlier martch, while Jordan Clarkson prevailed over Simone Fontecchio in the scoring battle between Utah Jazz players, the Italian had the last laugh as they joined the Dominican Republic in the final 16.

Fontecchio led Italy with 18 points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal, while Giampaolo Ricci added 14 points, two rebounds and one assist.

Clarkson put up 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal for Gilas, which became the first host team to drop its first three games in the FIBA World Cup after Colombia also went 0-3 to start the 1982 edition.

Serbia sizzled early on, dropping 30 points on South Sudan in the first quarter before ending it with a 10-point lead.

Serbia continued to pounce on South Sudan in the next two quarters and led by as much as 25 midway through the third quarter.

South Sudan seemed to have found some glimpses of rhythm after finishing the third period strong to cut Serbia’s lead down to 18, but the latter pulled away for good early in the fourth.

NBA player Nikola Jovic scored 25 points on 9-for-9 field goals including 5-of-5 from long range, two rebounds and three assists for Serbia, which joined Group A top notchers Dominican Republic and Italy in the Round of 16 starting on Friday night.

Bogdan Bogdanovic added 23 points, two rebounds, nine assists, and three steals, while Nikola Milutinov put up 17 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one block.

Dut Jok Kacoul put up 21 points on six threes, two rebounds, three assists and two steals to lead South Sudan, which can only hope for China to beat Puerto Rico later Wednesday by 35 points or less to move on to the second round.

Over at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, the United States of America (USA) made quick work of Jordan for a 110-62 blowout to complete a 3-0 sweep of Group C action.

Team USA whipped Jordan early on with a 31-12 first-quarter lead and never looked back from there.

Anthony Edwards played his best game so far in the FIBA World Cup, leading Team USA with 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Bobby Portis added 13 points, six rebounds and three steals.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led Jordan with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.