Vucevic, Montenegro outclass Clarkson, Gilas Pilipinas in tune-up match

Montenegro defeated Gilas Pilipinas, 102-87, in close-door tune-up match at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday, August 20.

Nikola Vucevic, star center for the Chicago Bulls, led the way with 11 of his 18 points in the breakaway third quarter, when the Black Mountains turned a 44-42 halftime lead into a 64-51 advantage off a pivotal 20-9 run.

Jordan Clarkson led the losing cause for the Philippine national team with 27 points, 18 of which came in Gilas’ promising first half, but he also committed 8 turnovers, overshadowing his 5 assists in a 29-minute run that lasted only three quarters.

The Filipinos got as close as 11 points, 65-76, near the start of the fourth quarter, before Montenegro opened up a 20-point lead, 90-70, with 6:14 remaining after a Bojan Dubljevic three.

The Montenegrins’ resolve was dampened by June Mar Fajardo’s scoring surge in the final minutes, but Aleksa Ilic slammed the comeback door shut with a statement dunk in the final minute for a 19-point edge, 102-83.

Fajardo, a six-time PBA MVP, ably supported Clarkson by scattering 19 points, 11 of which came in the final 5:54 of the game.

Dwight Ramos scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half, adding three steals and two rebounds, while reigning PBA MVP Scottie Thompson showed significant progress in his hand injury rehab with 8 points on a perfect 3-of-3 shooting from the bench.

Following a 10-point performance last Friday, August 18, against Ivory Coast, Kai Sotto went scoreless in 15 minutes off the bench.

Gilas will look to end its World Cup preparation on a high note when it clashes with Mexico in the same venue on Monday, August 21, at 8:00pm.

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