MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas held off the Shanghai Sharks, 80-72, Monday night in the first leg of the Philippines-China Friendship Games at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Philippines blew a 19-point lead to start the fourth quarter before holding its ground and pulled stops in the final minute to win.
“I think more than anything the program was in full display for the team of pros able to play with the cadets,” said National team head coach Chot Reyes.
“The team is still to be built. Those guys really love to be in the National team and you have got to give it to them.”
The Nationals got a big boost from their cadets with Garvo Lanete and RR Garcia lighting it up from long range.
Gary David led the way with 14 points including a barrage of treys in the third quarter that stretched the Philippines lead to 18, 62-44.
Lanete joined the shooting spree with two triples to end the third quarter to give the Philippines its biggest lead, 71-52.
“They (Philippines) are well coached and play at a high level,” said Sharks head coach Wang Qun.
The Sharks, who missed their two best players including Liu Wei due to diarrhea, came back thanks to a 20-6 run led by point guard Meng Lingyuan.
Japeth Aguilar scored on an inbound play before a defensive stop on the other end stopped the Sharks’ rally.
Aguilar, Fajardo and Gabe Norwood added 11 each while Garcia and Lanete contributed 10 and eight points respectively.
Seven-foot-three center Zhang Zhaoxu led the Sharks with 17 points and 12 rebounds.