Dominican Republic sweeps Group A play, keeps Gilas' hopes alive

Despite a quiet outing, Karl-Anthony Towns helped the Dominican Republic sweep Group A. Kennelf Monteza
By John Rhey Piamonte

QUEZON CITY–Despite Karl-Anthony Towns playing limited minutes due to foul trouble, the Dominican Republic still managed to squeak past the gutsy Angola squad, in a 75-67 tight win that secured them a ticket to Round 2 of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup on Tuesday night, at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The 26-year-old point guard Andres Feliz continues to make noise in his first World Cup stint as he paved the way for the Dominican Republic in its penultimate Group A match, topping the scoring chart with 17 huge points across his name. 

“This team never gives up. That just shows you a lot. Most of us were in foul trouble, but the second part of the team stepped up. Everybody is locked in when we need them the most. That is why I’m so proud to be part of this team,” Feliz said after the grueling match that propelled the world no. 23 Dominican to a 3-0 first-round sweep. 

After just becoming the second player over the last 30 years to have 20+ points and 10+ rebounds stat line in his first two FIBA World Cup games, Towns had a rough third outing as he only played for 15 minutes because of foul trouble. 

The NBA star picked up three quick personal fouls right off the bat, with the first being called just 49 seconds into the game, followed by another foul call at the 6:09 mark that eventually led to his third, after a technical foul was given to him off a resentment to that previous call. 

But guard Lester QuiƱones stepped up to the plate and led the scoring charge for the Dominicans,  dropping seven points to close out the quarter strong, 20-11. 

With the Dominican Republic head coach Nestor Garcia deciding to preserve Towns the whole second quarter, Angola capitalized and dominated the shaded area as the team scored 20 first-half points in the paint to cut DR's lead to five, 37-32 by the end of the second salvo. 

The basketball gods seemed to be smiling in favor of the Time Nacional as Dominicans’ main man Towns committed an offensive foul just under two minutes into the third that caused him to sit out the remainder of the quarter. 

Trying to turn the tides in their favor, Angola did not waste any time in pushing the Dominicans into the rope as guard Childe Dundao knocked down a big triple to snatch the lead, 45-46. 

The current 41st-ranked team in the world was able to maintain its staggering run and took a 49-50 advantage off Silvio De Sousa's and-1 play entering the fourth. 

Fighting for their tournament lives, Angola’s power forward De Sousa once again came up big in the clutch after a steal and his dunk tied the game at 65-all. 

But then Feliz happened, the 6" guard put on a scintillating offensive onslaught, igniting a 10-2 closing run that was capped off by his driving layup that sealed the fate of the Angolans, 75-67. 

De Sousa ended the game with 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals for Angola. 

With this victory, the Dominican Republic finished the preliminary at the top of its group and will now await the results of the tournament’s Group B for its Round 2 assignment.

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