It was no easy task: Joventut Badalona playmaker Andres Feliz made his World Cup debut with the Dominican Republic against the Philippines in front of an all-time record crowd of 38,115 at Manila Philippine Arena. Far from being intimidating by such noisy basketball atmosphere, Feliz took another step forwards in his career, leading the Dominican Republic to an 87-81 win which could be critical to send his team to the next round in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
Joventut's Feliz steps up in front of a record crowd
Feliz starts, rises to the occasion
Feliz played a major role in this critical win, seeing more playing time than any of his teammates, almost 31 minutes, six more than All-NBA center Karl-Anthony Towns. He also led his team in performance index rating (20), finishing the game with a solid all-around performance: 12 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists.
Philippines led 69-72 midway through the third quarter when Feliz picked up a good pass from Dreamland Gran Canaria guard Jean Montero to strike from downtown to tie the game. When Montero found Antonio Peña for another three-pointer, the Dominican Republic took the lead for good. Feliz still had time to get three more rebounds and get another layup. Montero also helped it many ways, getting 6 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
A late bloomer
Feliz is no longer a young prospect and at age 26, he has carefully taken many steps forward to showcase his best basketball at the prime of his career. His first professional stop was Joventut's affiliate team, CB Prat, where he played in the 2020-21 season, leading the Spanish third division in scoring at 18.9 points per game.
Fully aware of his potential, Joventut allowed Feliz to grow in each of the last three seasons, always seeing more playing time and posting better numbers. Last season, he averaged career highs of 9.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 21 BKT EuroCup games, leading the competition in three-point shooting (51.2% 3FG). All that EuroCup experience has allowed Feliz to have a great debut at the 2023 FIBA World Cup, as Dominican tries to go past the first group stage and set new goals in the tournament.