By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
GILAS PILIPINAS Youth fought hard in its first game at the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Basketball World Cup but came up short in the end against host Greece, losing, 85-69, early Sunday morning (Manila time).
While it held its own in the early goings of the contest at the Heraklion Indoor Sports Arena, the Philippine national youth team struggled to keep in step with the Greeks in the second half as the latter created separation on their way to the victory.
Gilas Youth played undermanned for much of the contest after big man AJ Edu suffered a right knee injury in the first quarter.
With a little less than eight minutes left in the opening canto, Edu drove to the basket but fell on the floor and immediately clutched his right knee. He was later carried off the court by his teammates.
Injury report after confirmed Edu suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscal tear which have ruled him out for the remainder of the tournament.
In his absence, Kai Sotto and the rest of the big guys of the Philippine team tried to hold the fort but foul trouble eventually caught up with them, limiting what they were able to do the rest of the way.
Nikolas Arsenopoulos paced the Greeks with 18 points while Aristotelis Sotiriou had 16 points and nine rebounds.
For the Philippines it was Sotto who led the way with 13 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Gerry Abadiano also had 13 points with Dave Ildefonso adding 12 points of his own.
Following their loss, Gilas Youth coach Sandy Arespacochaga said that the loss of Edu early disrupted their game plan but nonetheless gave credit to the players for their effort to keep fighting despite the tough situation they were forced into.
He also expressed hope for the fast recovery of Edu.
“We gave it our best but some details, especially on defense, we gave up too many offensive rebounds. We fouled too much and sent them to the line. It’s a tough loss. Hopefully we can recover and learn from this game and be better than this game,” Mr. Arespacochaga was quoted as saying by the official FIBA Website.
Gilas Youth looks to bounce back when it takes on Argentina early Monday morning.