With its offense conking out in the final frame, Gilas Pilipinas fell to Senegal, 72-64, on Friday night to absorb its first loss in the 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament.
The Philippines bucked yet another slow start and got things going in the second period, dragging the West Africans into a nip-and-tuck affair at Jiangman En Ping Sport Gymnasium in China.
But unlike its triumphant showing over Iran the night before, the Nationals sputtered just as The Lions hit a groove.
June Mar Fajardo led the way with 14 points while Dwight Ramos and CJ Perez each finished with 11 as the Philippines slid to a 1-1 win-loss record in the tournament being used to prime for the Fiba World Cup in Manila, Japan, and Indonesia beginning Aug. 25.
Rhenz Abando and AJ Edu, who were big against old tormentor Iran, were limited to just five and four points, respectively.
Senegal’s win gives the Lions a 2-0 card in the short meet. The Lions, who missed out on the World Cup, are currently preparing for the Fiba Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Lagos set Aug. 12.
Gilas Pilipinas, which is still playing without naturalized player Jordan Clarkson and big man Kai Sotto, goes on a break on Saturday. The training squad will try to get back at Senegal when the games return to Heyuan Sport Gymnasium this Sunday at 8 p.m.
Chot Reyes and his charges wrap things up against Iran on Monday before heading back home to the Philippines, where Gilas is scheduled to host Montenegro and Mexico in a pair of friendlies leading to the World Cup.
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