Serbia def. Philippines, 126-67
Nemanja Bjelica (20 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 7/7 FG, 3/3 FT)
A perfect shooting night for the Serb. The power forward who currently plays for the Sacramento Kings in the National Basketball Association (NBA) torched the Filipinos with his offensive repertoire in just 16 minutes off the bench. He didn’t really have to create for his own shots as his teammates kept on finding him for uncontested looks throughout the game.
Bogdan Bogdanović (17 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 4/5 3-PT)
Bjelica’s NBA teammate also impressed against the Philippines as he did most of his damage from outside the arc. Bogdanović confidently jacked-up threes from all over the place and unsurprisingly drained most of them. He was looking to score, but also made sure that his other teammates got involved offensively as well.
Nikola Jokić (11 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 5/5 FG)
Serbia’s main man. Unlike Bogdanović, he started the game sitting on the bench, but immediately made an impact after coming on. Jokić came on at the 6:24 mark of the first canto and over a minute later, the Denver Nuggets star center grabbed a defensive rebound and provided an assist to San Antonio Spurs 2015 first round draftee, Nikola Milutinov. There were post/elbow plays for him, but instead of taking over and becoming a one-man wrecking crew, he constantly looked for his teammates with lobs or drop-passes.
CJ Perez (16 points, 3 assists, 2 steals)
The rookie who plays for the Columbian Dyip in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) continued to impress with his stellar play for the National Team. Perez was fearless and full of confidence in his 21 minutes off the bench. He kept on slashing inside and challenging the tall Serbs in each possession – which led to a lot of points for Gilas. The Pangasinan native also thrilled the audience with his relentless pressuring on the defensive end of the floor.
Paul Lee (15 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2 steals)
After a subpar showing against Italy, the former PBA Rookie of the Year finally broke out of his slump and justified Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao’s decision to start him versus Serbia. Lee was aggressive from start to finish and will look to maintain this level of play in their next game.
- In their opening game against Italy, the Philippines only scored a measly eight points at the end of the first quarter and showed no signs of life. Things were a little bit better against the Serbians though (at least offensively) as they finished with 13 points in the first period. Mark Barroca and RR Pogoy were dropped from the starting line-up as Guiao went with Lee and Troy Rosario.
- There was a sense of urgency at the start of the game for the Filipinos as they went toe-to-toe with their opponents and showed “puso” against the team who placed second in the 2015 FIBA World Cup. Gilas even took the lead at one point (9-7 at the 6:02 mark courtesy of a Lee jumper), but could not hold onto it much longer as the Serbians unleashed a 21-4 run to end the opening frame on a high note.
- Gilas once again had a difficult time containing the offensive onslaught of their opponents as they leaked more than a hundred points versus the Serbians. The Europeans converted 75% of their field goal attempts, while making 54.5% of their shots from the three-point territory. Serbia also had a high clip at the foul line as they knocked down 81.8% of their free throw attempts.
- Despite having NBA superstar Jokić (and a slew of outstanding big men) on the team, the Serbians did not solely rely on their height advantage. Not only did they have post-up plays, but Serbia also had a well-executed game-plan in the perimeter. Their ball-movement was exceptional and made basketball look so easy. The give-and-gos, hand-off passes, high-low sets (which resulted into numerous alley-oops) definitely tore the Philippines apart.
- The three-point shooting of Gilas was dismal for the second consecutive game as they only made 16.7% of the attempts beyond the arc (yes, it was an improvement from the 13% against Italy, but c’mon man). Andrey Blatche, Robert Bolick, Kiefer Ravena, and Perez were the only ones who drained an outside shot (one each).
- “I take 100% responsibility in that game no energy or puso that’s on me no excuses i owe better to all of you” tweeted naturalized big man Blatche hours after the Italy clash. Many probably expected him to be at his very best in the crucial match against Serbia, but he actually performed worse (finished with 5 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, 1 steal, 2 turnovers and 5 fouls)? Guess it’s time to re-evaluate his position in the team after this tournament.
- Side-note: It was really exciting to see Fajardo, our country’s best big man, match-up against Jokić and Boban Marjanović!!!!