Gilas Pilipinas kept the game close all throughout, but Jordan Clarkson fouled out in the closing minutes as they stumbled to an 81-87 loss to the Dominican Republic at the start of the 2023 FIBA World Cup at the full-house Philippine Arena in Bucaue, Bulacan.
Gilas was still in the thick of things when Clarkson fouled out with 3:32 left after he was slapped with an offensive foul.
The Utah Jazz star went to the bench for good with the Dominicans leading by just three-79-76.
The Filipinos still kept the game close but with their main man reduced to a mere spectator, they simply failed to produce when it mattered the most, allowing the Dominicans to escape with the hard-earned six-point win.
Egged on by more than 38,000 crowd, Gilas held its ground in the early goings and forced the Dominicans to a 42-all standoff at the bend.
Gilas was just down by two, 64-66, at the start of the payoff period before losing steam at the finish.
Clarkson finished with a game-high 28 points to lead Gilas but accounted for eight of the team’s 19 turnovers.
Cebuano big man June Mar Fajardo tallied 16 points, while Dwight Ramos contributed 13.
Kai Sotto hardly played in the all-important match as he was just used for one minute and 13 seconds and failed to score a single point.
Karl-Anthony Towns lived up to his lofty billing as the Minnesota Timberwolves forward led the Dominicans with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Image courtesy of FIBA
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