Gilas Youth had a strong opening salvo. But that wasn’t enough to fend off the home team, Greece. Gilas fell to Greece 69-85 in their first game of the 2019 FIBA U19 World Cup.
Already facing tough odds, things got tougher for Gilas barely two minutes into the game. Forward AJ Edu, an integral part of this Gilas team injured his knee as he drove to the basket. He had to be helped off the court and wouldn’t return to the game.
With Edu gone, Gilas needed to find firepower from other sources. Kai Sotto immediately scored on an and-one drive to get the team to refocus. Dave Ildefonso then followed it up with five straight points to push the lead up to five.
Ildefonso continued his stellar play as he found Xyrus Torres for a three-pointer and got to the line for two freebies. Two more free throws by Dalph Panopio gave Gilas their biggest lead of the game at 10 points. They would settle for a seven-point lead heading to the second period.
Unfortunately for Gilas, that advantage wouldn’t stand. Greece tied the game quickly, going on an 8-1 run to open the second period. Gilas battled Greece all the way to the halftime buzzer where Greece took the lead, 42-41.
From then on, the home team gradually took over the game. Greece took a six-point lead in the third quarter and pulled away for good in the final period. They outscored Gilas 22-12 in the fourth quarter to get the easy win.
Sotto led Gilas with 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Gerry Abadiano scored 13 as well. Ildefonso added 12 points but shot only 3/12 in the game.
Gilas still has two more games to improve their seeding heading into the round of 16. All teams in the tournament will advance to the bracket phase. They will go up against Argentina next and close the group stage against Russia.
Photo from FIBA.com