Karl-Anthony Towns erupts for another double-double as Dominican Republic upsets Italy

Karl-Anthony Towns put up another brilliant performance for the Dominican Republic. Kennelf Monteza
By John Rhey Piamonte

QUEZON CITY– World no. 23 Dominican Republic continued its hot start to the 2023 World Cup as they leaned on a blistering second-half surge to scorch world no. 10 Italy, in an 87-82 Group A nail-biter, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Sunday night. 

The Dominican Republic put on a third-quarter masterclass with star Karl-Anthony Towns and guard Andres Feliz leading the comeback run as the Dominicans went on a 31-17 reversal that turned the tides of the game and stunned the favorites Italy.  

The Minnesota Timberwolves star maintained its impressive world championships debut, filling up the stat sheet yet again, barging in with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists to pace the Dominicans to a 2-0 start. 

“We just stayed to what we do. I think our game plan is great. We just stayed disciplined. We just needed to make some shots and finally, we started making them in the second half. It’s really great, a really great win.” Towns said in the post-game interview. 

Italy started the game red hot, dropping a 12-0 bomb right at the get-go that propelled the Azzurri to a 19-13 opening lead. 

With the Dominicans slowly getting their groove in the second quarter, Marco Spissu, Giampaolo Ricci, and Simone Fontecchio provided the needed leadership for Italy as the trio put on an offense-defense masterclass that stopped the streaking Republic, 39-38. 

After a 10-point first half, Towns entered the third frame firing on all cylinders and ignited a 9-0 run to take the lead away from the hands of the Azzurri. Feliz then catches fire beyond the arc in the fourth stretching their lead to 17, 77-60. 

The 26-year-old guard did not shy away from the spotlight as he lit up the big dome with seven treys, finishing with 24 points, five rebounds, five assists, and one block for the Dominican Republic. 

Finding themselves down 83-67 with two minutes left in the game, Italy pulled off a monumental 15-2 streak that was capped by Spissu’s two free throws made to rise from the dead and cut the lead of the Dominicans to just single possession, 85-82. 

But the Coach Nestor Garcia-headed squad kept its composure and steadily controlled the dying seconds of the match to hold on to the victory. 

Guard Spissu topped the chart for Italy after a 17-point outing while Ricci and Fontecchio had 12 and 13 markers for the Azzurri. 

The Dominican Republic will have Angola as its final assignment of Round 1 of the group phase this Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while Italy will look to bounce back against host nation Philippines in a must-win Group A closer.

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