GILAS Pilipinas took a litmus test playing Mexico minus Jordan Clarkson and fell short.

On their own with the Fil-Am NBA star getting a breather, the Nationals gamely fought Mexico but ended up absorbing a 77-84 loss in Monday night’s closed-door tuneup at the PhilSports Arena.

The result gave the Filipinos a 1-2 card in their three-game series ahead of Friday’s FIBA Basketball World Cup opening. They previously scored an  85-62 rout of Ivory Coast then sustained a 85-102 defeat to Montenegro.

“We would have wanted to win this last game in particular but (overall) a lot of positives (were gained),” coach Chot Reyes said after bowing to the 31st-ranked Guerreros.

The troika of matches, which mimicked the styles of Gilas’ Group A rivals the Dominican Republic, Angola and Italy, allowed late arrivals Mr. Clarkson and Kai Sotto and comebacking playmaker Scottie Thompson to get precious playtime with the pool.

“We were able to get Jordan, Kai and Scottie to play with the rest of the guys (in the pre-WC series). I think that’s the most important thing come World Cup. We’re not going to come in cold,” said Mr. Reyes.

The 16-strong pool, which is expected to be trimmed down to the Final 12 anytime, intends to make the most of the next three days to further prepare for the Day 1 matchup with the Dominicans at the Philippine Arena.

“We’re now going to condense everything that we learned in the last two months and all the tuneup games in these next few days of practice — a  combination of video and court work to make sure we’d be at our highest form for Aug. 25,” said Mr. Reyes.

“That’s what we have to do right now, the best we can do. So these days are going to be very, very important.”

In the absence of Mr. Clarkson, Mr. Thompson took the cudgels with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists in the duel with Mexico. He was backed up by Dwight Ramos and RR Pogoy, who shot nine apiece, and Jamie Malonzo and Mr. Sotto, who had eight each.

Pako Cruz topscored with 18 while Paul Stoll erupted for the Guerreros with 17 markers on a five-of-eight clip from deep that went with five boards and four dimes.

It was also Mr. Stoll’s three-pointer at the start of the fourth that handed Mexico its biggest lead, 72-63. — Olmin Leyba

The Scores:

Mexico 84 — Cruz 18, Stoll 17, Jaimes 15, Ibarra 12, Bonilla 6, Giron 6, I. Gutierrez 4, Camacho 3, Andriasi 3, J. Gutierrez 0, Amigo 0.

The Philippines 77 — Thompson 14, Pogoy 9, Ramos 9, Sotto 8, Malonzo 8, K. Ravena 7, Newsome 6, Fajardo 6, Perez 4, Edu 3, Aguilar 3, Abando 0.

Quarterscores: 31-27, 51-51, 69-63, 84-77.