THIS was one game Gilas Pilipinas could have used a sniper.
It was an atrocious shooting night, miserable even, for the Philippines as it suffered a 108-62 defeat to Italy to kickstart its campaign in the 2019 Fiba World Cup on Saturday in Foshan, China.
Admittedly mismatched size-wise to the taller opposition, the long bombs were supposed to be the Filipinos' great equalizer, especially in this opener against the Azzurri.
But that dream scenario looked hell of a lot different from the reality that ensued.
Gilas laid bricks inside the GBA International Sports & Cultural Arena, almost enough to put up a new Great Wall, as it fired blanks in its return stint to the global basketball showpiece.
The Philippines missed its first 17 shots from beyond the arc, with only Kiefer Ravena's open three from the top of the arc at the 7:02 mark of the fourth quarter ending that drought.
That, unfortunately, was too little too late as the Azurri were already cruising to the victory at that point, 90-46.
"The ring became smaller and smaller as the game went by," said Ravena of the team's woeful shooting.
Gilas buried two more triples in the end game courtesy of CJ Perez and Andray Blatche, but those baskets could not hide the ugliness of the Philippines' 3-of-23 three-point shooting clip, good (or bad) for just 13-percent.
"It was really one of our goals to focus on our shots when we made our preparation this morning, But it was just one of those nights for us," said Ravena.
"I think we missed our first 17 three-point shots, but again there's no excuse. We just played bad."
Coach Yeng Guiao's designated hitters could not hit their targets, with Paul Lee (0-3), Gabe Norwood (0-3), Robert Bolick (0-2), Troy Rosario (0-1), and Roger Pogoy (0-1) all failing to find the bottom of the net.
Yet even those who were able to buy a bucket from rainbow country had a terrible shooting night, with Ravena (1-5) and Blatche (1-5) both going on a 20-percent shooting from downtown.
The Philippines should have known from the start, especially with the way Italy has shot the ball from the get-go.
As much as Gilas muffled its first seven attempts from deep, its demise were furthered by the Italians' excellent 5-of-8 clip in the first quarter, giving them a 37-8 lead after the first 10 minutes.
At halftime, Italy has already gone 11-of-17 from threes, against the Philippines' 0-of-12.
Azzurri's leading scorer Gigi Datome was a perfect 3-of-3 from deep for 17 points, Amedeo Della Valle also buried three for 17 points, and Danilo Gallinari was scorching from three-point region with 4-of-5 clip before ending the night with 16.
Collectively, Italy went 15-of-31 from deep, that not even missing four threes in the payoff period could dim the domination it dealt the Philippines.
Gilas definitely missed the services of deadshot shooters Marcio Lassiter and Matthew Wright, but their injuries, as earlier explained by Guiao, cost them their spots.
Also, the three-point shooting (or the lack thereof) is just partly to blame for the blowout, with Gilas' lousy turnovers and overall lackluster defense all contributing to the downfall.
The Philippines will next face Serbia, a team touted as one of the heavy favorites to win the World Cup, on Monday, and for the Filipinos to pull off a massive upset, they doesn't just have to be far more accurate from deep. They also have to do a better job overall.