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Hot-shooting Italy sends Gilas packing

Photo courtesy of FIBA

Italy played its best game and torched a Gilas Pilipinas squad that was fighting for survival, 90-83, in the FIBA Basketball World Cup late Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After a sour shooting in their first two matches, the Italians came out firing, dropping a barrage of long bombs to eliminate the Filipinos in Group A preliminaries of this prestigious 32-nation tournament.

With that, Italy will advance to the second round together with the Dominican Republic, which capped its undefeated run with a masterful 75-67 win over Angola early in the day.

The Italians and the Dominicans will join the qualifiers Group B that is composed of Serbia, Puerto Rico, South Sudan and China in the second round of the group stages.

Gilas, for their part, have been relegated to the classification phase together with Angola. They, however, still have a chance to earn an automatic slot in the Paris Olympics pending the outcome of the final match of China against Puerto Rico on Wednesday.

But against Italy, Gilas groped for form.

The Italians, who struggled with a total of 12 three-pointers in their first two matches against Angola and the Dominican Republic, caught fire, dropping 17 treys using their crisp passing, clean looks at the basket and lightning-quick ball movement.

“We just came here to win the game and that’s the most important thing,” Italy guard Marco Spissu said.

“We won today and we’re very happy because in two days we will be facing Serbia. We want to keep dreaming so let’s get it.”

Simone Fontecchio led the scoring parade as he hit 18 points and six rebounds while Giampaolo Ricci dropped 14 points in a sizzling 4-of-6 from the rainbow territory.

Spissu and Stefano Tonut added 13 points apiece while Alessandro Pajola chipped in 11 markers for the Italians, who beat their Asian foes using their impressive European brand of play.

“You can’t expect the world No. 10 team to have three consecutive bad games, so their shooting was bound to happen,” said Gilas guard Kiefer Ravena, who had difficulty containing the taller, more experienced gunners of the Italian squad.

Jordan Clarkson and Dwight Ramos were the lone bright spots for the Filipinos, scoring 23 points and 14 points, respectively.

Clarkson, who is the teammate of Fontecchio at the Utah Jazz in the National Basketball Association, also added seven rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes of action.

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