ITALY waxed hot from the opening tip-off and never wavered the rest of the way as it cruised to a 106-70 victory over Gilas Pilipinas at the start of their four-nation pocket tournament at The Paladozza early Sunday morning (Manila time).
The Filipinos fell behind right on the first burst of gunfire after the Italians, led by Danilo Gallinari, went on a 22-0 tear in the first five minutes of the match.
The Philippines struggled to find its range and didn’t buy a basket until help came from the bench.
Big man June Mar Fajardo finally lighted up the scoreboard for the team when he made one off NBA veteran Andrea Bargnani. The San Miguel Beer center came in to replace Andray Blatche as the Gilas naturalized player was slapped his second personal foul.
But it was just momentary relief for Gilas. By the time the 10-minute agony was over, Gilas found itself trailing by a mile, 40-7.
Blatche led the way for the Philippines with 21 points, scoring the bulk in the second half when the team tried hard to make a game out of it.
Troy Rosario also had a solid showing in the final two quarters as he finished with 10 points, the same output of shooting guard Terrence Romeo.
"You played much better in the second half because you allowed the offense to work for your talent," said coach Tab Baldwin inside the team dugout as quoted by Carlo Pamintuan of Sports5.
Gallinari, the Denver Nugget wingman, finished with 20 points on a hot 5 of 6 shooting from the three-point distance for the two-time Olympic silver medalists.
In all, the Italians were 10 of 16 from downtown compared to the 7 of 20 for Gilas.
The setback came just a few days after the national team also fell to Turkey by a wide margin, 103-68, in a tune-up game held in Istanbul.
Gilas now plays China in its final match in the two-day meet. The Chinese earlier lost to Canada, which plays Italy in a battle between unbeaten teams.
Gilas, Italy, and Canada are using the pocket meet as part of their preparations for the three simultaneous Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to be held from July 5-10 in Manila, Italy, and Serbia, respectively.
Italy (106) - Gallinari 20, Bellineli 11, Datome 8, Cervi 8, Gentile 8, Hackett 7, Abbas 7, Bargnani 6, Dela Valle 6, Cusin 4, Cinciarini 4, Melli 3.
Philippines (70) – Blatche 21, Rosario 10, Romeo 10, Castro 9, Pingris 4, Abueva 3, De Ocampo 3, Aguilar 3, Norwood 2, Fajardo 2, Chan 2, Parks 1, Tenorio 0, Reyes 0.
Quarterscores: 40-7; 64-23; 80-50; 106-70.