Al-Ahli Arena, Dubai, UAE- The Philippines U17 National Team started their 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship campaign in a sour note after losing to a very tall Angola team, 82-72. The Filipinos had a difficulty dealing with the massive height disparity. The Angolans had an average height of 6-4 which could very well match-upsize-wise with the older Smart Gilas who will be competing in the World Cup in a few weeks time. Half of Angola national team is 6-6 and above while the tallest Filipino is Richard Escoto who stands at 6-3. Skill-wise though the Filipinos can match up with the best in the world.
Both teams were tentative at the start of the game. The game was scoreless for almost 3 minutes before 6-1 Cebuano Paul Desiderio who was playing Power Forward scored the first basket at the 7:19 mark of the first period. 6-6 Joao Jungo of Angola tied at 2 a piece at the 5:51 mark. 6-8 Bruno Fernando gave Angola its first lead with a jump shot, 4-2. Jose Go completed a three point play to give back the lead to the Philippines at 5-4. Desiderio increased the lead to 7-4 after making a basket. The Philippines’ biggest lead was 10-6 after Michael De la Cruz hit 3 bonus free throws after drawing a foul from 6-4 Avelino Do while attempting a three-point shot. Jungo and Eric Amandio orchestrated an 8-0 blast to give Angola the lead at 14-10. UP’s Diego Dario was able to stop the bleeding for the Philippines to trim the lead to 14-12. Milton Valiente ended the scoring for the quarter with a free throw. The first period ended with score of 15-12 in favor of Angola.
The Philippines started the second period with a 7-3 blast behind Go and Jolo Mendoza to take back the lead at 19-18. Angola behind the hot 3-point shooting of Amandio and Edmilson Miranda responded with a 9-2 run to give Angola a 27-21 lead at the 7-miunte mark of the 2nd period. Mendoza scored 7 straight points for the Philippines to narrow the margin to 28-30 with 5:14 left before halftime. The Angolans closed out the half with an 11-4 spurt to pull away from the pesky Philippine team. Halftime score was 41-32.
The Philippines once again started strong in the opening minutes of the second half trimming the lead to just 5 at 37-42. Just like the previous quarters, Angola would respond with a run of its own as they were able increase the lead to 13 at 52-39 with less than 5 minutes left in the quarter. The game was even for the rest of the quarter as the Angolans took 61-52 lead going to the payoff period. In the fourth period, Angola was able to just match the Philippines in scoring and they were able to quell every rally the Filipino boys have tried. The Filipinos were able to trim the lead to 7 at 77-70 with 44 seconds left after Desiderio made a 2 point shot. The Filipinos were forced to foul but Miranda was able to hit both free throws to give Angola a 79-70 lead. Former Sacred Heart School- Ateneo de Cebu player Arnie Padilla madea jump shot with 23 seconds left to once again trim the lead to 7 at 72-79 but Angola held on to win the game at 82-72.
The Filipinos lost by a respectable 10 points. They were sorely out rebounded as Angola had a 24 rebound advantage 70-46. 6-8 Valdir Manuel, Jungo, and Amandio combined for 36 boards. The Angolans had 20 offensive rebounds giving them more opportunities at the basket. The score was closer due to the atrocious free throw shooting of the taller African representatives who will only shot at 31.6% clip (12/38). The Philippines were also able to force 22 turnovers while only giving up the ball 9 times. The Filipinos had 10 steals led by the 4 of Jolo Mendoza. The Angolans, however, hit 10 3-point shots compared to the 5 of the Philippines. The Angolans also had 7 to 1 advantage in blocks.
The best players of the game were Joao Jungo of Angola who finished the game with 26 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 1 three-point shot, Eric Amandio who had 17 points, 12 caroms, and 4 3-pointers, and Jolo Mendoza who had 16 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 3-pointers in a losing effort. Cebuano Paul Desiderio had 9 points, 2 steals, and team leading 10 rebounds. Arnie Padilla had 2 points.
The Philippines will next face Greece while the Angolans will battle the powerhouse USA.