It was the fourth telling of the same story. However, this one struck too close to home, as the Paris Olympics dream has come to a bitter ending.
South Sudan defeated Gilas Pilipinas 87-68 in the classification round of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, August 31. The Filipinos fought valiantly and displayed courage, but ultimately endured another loss.
Gilas attempted a comeback from a massive 21-point deficit, managing to cut the lead to just six points (67-61) early in the fourth quarter, but were shut out by a blistering 10-0 run by Carlik Jones, Nuni Omot, and Wenyen Gabriel.
Jones, who plays for the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, was the greatest thorn in Gilas’ side, scoring 17 points – including the two layups that kept South Sudan afloat against the roaring crowd and the rallying hosts – in addition to 14 assists and 9 rebounds.
Omot and Majok Deng each contributed 13 points, whereas Marial Shayok and Gabriel finished with 12 and 11 markers, respectively.
Gilas was led by Jordan Clarkson with 24 points as he sustained the second-half uprising initiated by Dwight Ramos. Gilas trailed 51-33 at halftime, but Ramos contributed 20 points, including an 8-0 surge that kept the team within striking distance.
The massive second-half comeback by Gilas followed the news of Japan’s 86-77 victory over Venezuela, which put them well clear of the Asian teams with a 2-2 record.
Even if they beat China in their final game on Saturday, September 2, Gilas will have no chance of becoming the best-placed Asian team.