By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
GILAS Pilipinas Youth slumped to its second defeat at the FIBA Basketball Under-19 World Cup, bowing to Argentina, 77-72, early Monday morning (Manila time) at the Herklion University Sports Hall in Greece.
Playing sans injured big man AJ Edu for the first time, the Philippine national youth team fought gallantly once again but just could not take it all the way to absorb another loss in the tournament and remain winless in Group C.
The 6’10” Edu, one of the main defensive catalysts of Gilas Youth, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscal tear on his right knee in their World Cup debut against host Greece on Sunday, which ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament.
Filipino-Nigerian Edu got injured just two minutes into the contest.
Against Argentina, the Sandy Arespacochaga-coach Philippine team did a good job staying in the game, led by Dave Ildefonso and Kai Sotto.
Gilas Youth made a serious late surge in the game and tried to snatch the victory but Argentina was able to survive it to book its second straight win.
Marco Giordano paced the Argentines with 18 points, followed by Francisco Farabello and Lucas Reyes with 15 points apiece.
For the Philippines, Ildefonso had a double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Sotto had 17 points, eight rebounds and six blocks with Gerry Abadiano and James Spencer adding nine points apiece.
The loss left the Philippines as the only winless team in its grouping with Argentina (2-0) on top and Russia and Greece following with 1-1 records.
Gilas Youth plays Russia on July 3 where it will try to come up with a win to have something to build on entering the next round.
Tournament format calls for the 16 participating teams playing against all other teams in its own group — a total of three games for each team.
All teams qualify for the Round of 16, where they will cross between Groups A and B and C and D. The winners of the Round of 16 games advance to the quarterfinals, while the losers move on to the Classification Games for Places 9-16.
In other groups are Senegal, the US, New Zealand and Lithuania (Group A); Mali, Australia, Canada and Latvia (Group B); and China, Puerto Rico, France and Serbia (Group D).