Gilas Pilipinas U17 absorbs tough loss to Lithuania in World Cup opener

The Gilas Pilipinas Men’s U17 basketball team’s journey in the 2024 FIBA U17 World Cup began with a baptism by fire, falling to powerhouse Lithuania 107-48 in their opening game on Saturday at the Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Turkey.

The young Filipinos struggled to keep pace with a well-oiled Lithuanian squad. Arturas Butajevas, a towering 6-foot-9 Lithuanian forward, led the way with a dominant performance of 22 points and 9 rebounds. His teammates Kajus Mikalauskas (15 points), Erikas Sirgedas (14 points), and Dovydas Buika (12 points) provided excellent support, showcasing Lithuania’s overall offensive strength.

Despite the lopsided defeat, Gilas Pilipinas displayed glimpses of potential. Cletz Amos emerged as a bright spot, leading the team in scoring with 10 points, 3 rebounds, a steal, and a block. Kurt Velasquez and Bonn Daja also chipped in valuable contributions with 8 and 7 points, respectively.

However, the absence of star player Kieffer Alas, sidelined with a knee injury, was undeniably felt. Coach Josh Reyes and his squad will need to regroup and strategize for their next challenge.

With no time to dwell on their opening defeat, Gilas Pilipinas will be back in action on Sunday evening (Manila time) for a crucial matchup against the world’s No. 2 ranked team, Spain. This will be a significant test for the young Filipinos, requiring them to step up their defensive intensity and offensive execution.

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