By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

WINLESS and already eliminated from the running in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Philippine men’s national basketball team tries to finish group play on a high note and have something to build on heading into the classification side of the tournament.

To take on fellow Group D tailender Angola in the scheduled 3:30 p.m. match today at the Foshan International Sports & Cultural Arena in China, Gilas Pilipinas looks to catch a break after two gut-wrenching losses.

Gilas saw its World Cup bid dashed after bowing to world number four Serbia on Monday, 126-67. It was in follow up to the 108-62 defeat it absorbed at the hands of Italy on opening day on Aug. 31.

The twin losses effectively ousted the Philippines from the knockout stages and having to settle for the classification round.

Against Serbia, led by National Basketball Association All-Star Nicola Jokic, Gilas played better than it did versus Italy, where it was flat right at the onset.

The Philippines battled early in the contest, with Paul Lee finding his mark.

Gilas was on top, 9-7, at the 5:39 mark of the opening frame before Mr. Jokic and the Serbian team started to make their move and pull away.

Serbia proved to be too much for the Philippines in the middle quarters, outscoring the latter, 71-35, which pretty much sealed the fate of Gilas.

CJ Perez once again stood tall for the Philippines, top-scoring with 16 points followed by Mr. Lee with 15.

June Mar Fajardo had eight markers while Japeth Aguilar and Robert Bolick finished with seven points each.

Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche only had five points and four rebounds before fouling out.

The Philippines lamented another tough loss but recognized Serbia was just too much.

“Tough loss. We wanted to make the game close. They’re just the number one team right now. Our goal was just to raise our game to a higher level. Serbia is just too much for us,” said Mr. Lee after the game.

World number 31 Gilas now hopes to have a breakthrough win when it collides with Angola, which is several rungs below it in the world rankings at 39th.

Angola is led in scoring by Carlos Morais and Yanick Moreira.

Philippines versus Angola will be shown live over TV5 and