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Phl groupmate Italy sweeps friendlies

Best way to weigh in the performance of teams for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is to look how they played in lead-up games.

(Photo from FIBA / Facebook)

Best way to weigh in on the performance of teams for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is to look at how they played in lead-up games.

If that’s the case, then bad news for the Philippines.

It’s Italy, the top team in Group A, might be too hot to handle.

Italy, currently ranked 10th in the world in men’s FIBA competitions, swept all of their seven tune-up games against fellow World Cup-bound teams, as they’re looking like legitimate podium threats this time around.

Their campaign started with a 90-89 win over Turkey in an overtime thriller. They picked apart China, 79-61, before another escape act against Serbia, 89-88, where the Italians came back from 17 points down.

Italian small forward Simone Fontecchio of the Utah Jazz in the NBA was the primary weapon as they also defeated Greece, Puerto Rico, Brazil and New Zealand for a perfect 7-0 tally.

The Dominican Republic suffered losses to Puerto Rico and Latvia, but rebounded with a huge 94-88 overtime win, led by Karl-Anthony Towns, against a loaded Canadian squad.

The sweet-shooting big led his team again with 20 points in their next game, but they fell short versus Spain, 86-77.

Angola, on the other hand, played in Spain, Jordan, and Japan. They started their campaign with a win against Venezuela, 66-61, but dropped a close one to Mexico, 78-76.

The Angolans rebounded with a win against Jordan but suffered back-to-back losses to Portugal and Japan to end their preparations.

The Philippines started playing preparation games very early, but not against World Cup opposition. They played youth and club teams in Estonia and Lithuania before picking up a 3-1 tally against Senegal and Iran’s secondary team in China.

The real work happened at home for Gilas Pilipinas as they defeated Ivory Coast, 85-62, before bowing to Montenegro, 102-87, and Mexico, 84-77.

Group A action starts on August 25 at the Philippine Arena, with Italy taking on Angola at 4 p.m. This will be followed by a musical celebration with Sarah Geronimo, The Dawn, and Ben & Ben before the Philippines opens its campaign versus the Dominican Republic at 8 p.m.

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