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Italians brace for Gilas

NBA player Simone Fontecchio from Italy is bracing for a showdown with his fellow Utah Jazz player Jordan Clarkson of Gilas Pilipinas. (Photo from FIBA)

Italy is not wasting any time dwelling on its tough loss at the hands of the Dominican Republic that put the world No. 10 ranked team on the brink of missing the last ride to the second round of the FIBA World Cup last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Italians suffered an 82-87 loss to the Karl-Anthony Towns-led Dominicans and slid to a 1-1 win-loss record in Group A.

With just a day to lick its wounds, Italy now shifts its focus to an all-important make-or-break game against host Gilas Pilipinas tomorrow.

“At this phase, there’s no time for depression, no time for euphoria. I think we’re old enough, everybody went through important games, everyone played against tough (opponents) on court,” Italy team captain Luigi Datome said.

Gilas (0-1) are playing Angola (0-1) as of press time.

The Italians had a great start, building a 12-0 lead only to lose steam as Andres Feliz went red-hot from long range in the second half to pull away.

With its back against the wall, Italy is determined to get past Gilas led by Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson, who dropped 28 points in the Philippines 81-87 loss to the Dominicans last Friday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

“Of course, the Philippines, like the Dominican Republic, have a single great player and all around them there’s a good team,” Datome said.

“So, for sure, it’s very important to limit this player, you cannot stop them, they’re so good, you can only limit them with the teamwork and pay attention to the others because they are all good players and have a game plan, try to execute it, stick with it and at the end of the day, we try to do the same thing.”

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