Gilas Pilipinas wraps up Fiba World Cup buildup with close loss to Dominican Republic in heated match
Gilas Pilipinas led Dominican Republic midway through the final period but failed to hold on. Photo courtesy of Sergio Garcua-Ronras

GILAS Pilipinas lost steam in the endgame and bowed to Dominican Republic, 86-79, in a highly-physical tuneup match on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) in Guadalajara, Spain.

The Filipinos compensated for their lack of size with aggressive play, storming back from a 10-point deficit to take a 68-67 lead following Jeff Chan’s three-pointer midway through the final period.

But Dominican Republic, which placed fourth in last year’s Fiba Americas, leaned on key baskets by Jack Michael Martinez and Eloy Vargas in the endgame to deny Gilas of a victory.

The loss capped Gilas' series of tuneup games ahead of its historic stint in the Fiba World Cup in Seville, where it begins its campaign with a game against powerhouse Croatia on Saturday.

The national team went 4-6 (win-loss) during those games that took Gilas to Miami, France and Spain, its lone victory over its last seven games coming against Egypt on Saturday.

Gabe Norwood scored 17 points for Gilas in a match so physical that Ranidel de Ocampo was called for an intentional foul in the first half following a hard foul on James Feldeine.

Naturalized center Andray Blatche chipped in 16 and six rebounds.

Five players scored in double-figures for Dominican Republic led by Feldeine with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Martinez added 14, six rebounds and five assists.

Vargas added 12, former Atlanta Hawks guard Victor Liz chipped in 11, nine boards and three assists, while Houston Rockets guard Francisco Garcia added 10.

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