Dominican Republic gets job done vs higher-ranked Italy to fuel Fiba World Cup run


Dominican Republic’s Karl-Anthony Towns in a Fiba World Cup game against Italy. –Marlo Cueto/

MANILA, Philippines — Karl-Anthony Towns reiterated that the Dominican Republic means business coming to Manila for the Fiba World Cup 2023 as they barged into the second round with two wins in Group A.

The three-time NBA All-Star averted a slow start after the Dominicans fell to a 12-0 deficit to start the game then joined hands with Andres Felix to finish with 24 points each as they stunned the World No.10 Italy, 87-82, on Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But Towns didn’t take it as an upset win for the No.23 Dominican Republic, believing that they have always been capable of beating the Azzurri for the first time.

“This is an upset? We wanted to win. I thought we came out and we did really well. We did great things in the second half and that’s what got us this W,” the Dominican star told reporters. “[It’s about] getting the job done. I think that we did a great job today as a team, [we] found a way to win. Andres [Feliz] and everybody was amazing, this is a great team win.”

Dominican Republic's Jean Montero, Andres Feliz, Karl-Anthony Towns Fiba World Cup

Dominican Republic’s Jean Montero, Andres Feliz, Karl-Anthony Towns in a Fiba World Cup game. -MARLO CUETO/

Feliz, who shot 7-of-10 from the three-point line, deflected his big game to his teammates and their determination.

“I just give a lot of credit to my teammates. Today was amazing. Finding who was the hottest and I was feeling like I was the hardest tonight. Give credit to my teammates who shared the ball with me. I was happy to produce for the team,” Feliz said.

“I’m just happy that I was able to produce for the team. We did it the way we wanted. Huge that we were able to lock down on defense and it translated into the offensive side. I’m just happy that we didn’t let up earlier in the game so like I said, we got it back with the defense and that got us back during the game.”

‘NOT JUST Xs and Os’

Dominican Republic coach Nestor Garcia bared the key to their historic win over Italy was his players’ good attitude and composure.

“We played for the people, the pride, a lot of things,” said Garcia. “It’s not just about Xs and Os, you know? The attitude was very important for us and we played together and faster. I’m very happy today because the Dominican Republic has never beaten Italy in history. It’s the first time in history, for us, it’s something unbelievable.”

After assuring a spot in the second round, Towns remains eager to finish strong in Group A and continue to go deeper this World Cup in Manila.

“We came here to win and it feels good to know that we got two under our belt, we got another one still in Angola and we got to keep fighting, we gotta keep playing well. This tournament is about wins, you gotta get ‘em all,” said Towns as they battle Angola on Tuesday at the Big Dome.

WATCH: Karl-Anthony Towns after Dominican Republic’s win over Italy. #FIBAWC | via Rommel Fuertes• Visit for live updates.

Posted by Inquirer Sports on Sunday, August 27, 2023

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