Gilas Pilipinas shows its worth
MANILA, Philippines — Far from tip-top form, Gilas Pilipinas got the workout it badly needed to kick off its buildup for the Fiba World Cup in August and the Asian Games in September.
“They prepared hard and defended us well,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes after the Nationals toppled the PBA All-Stars, 101-93, Sunday night in the highlight event of the 25th PBA All-Star Weekend at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
“They kept on showing us different combinations, different looks, and they were able to run some stuff that we’re going to see in international competition,” added Reyes.
Long-range ace Gary David was named MVP of the game, the first outing for the PBA-backed Gilas since Reyes recalled the 12-man national squad plus three additions from their mother ballclubs a month ago with once-a-week practice sessions.
The Nationals qualified in the world championship for the first time in 36 years after placing second in the Fiba Asia tournament held in Manila last year.
Jeff Chan fired 17 points built on three three-pointers, David finished with 15, while naturalized center Marcus Douthit was an immovable presence inside the paint as Gilas finally broke loose in the third period.
“The team knows that it’s not about minutes,” said Reyes. “They just want to be able to contribute and do what’s needed for the team.”
Meralco’s Jared Dillinger, Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee and Beau Belga were the recent additions to the original 12-man group which nailed the silver medal in the Asian Championship won by Iran.
Both teams methodically tested each other’s strengths in the first half, trading baskets and exploiting the slightest defensive lapse in the rare matchup among the league’s best players.
Gilas took control early with Jason Castro, June Mar Fajardo and Gary David combining to give the Nationals a seven-point lead. The Nationals then broke away in the third period as Douthit and Chan hit their strides.
Ranidel De Ocampo’s layup gave the national team its biggest advantage, 80-62, late in the third before the All-Stars’ Marcio Lassiter, Calvin Abueva, Arwind Santos and Chris Ellis fought back to set up the thrilling finish.
Lassiter paced the All-Stars with 12 points while Greg Slaughter added 11.
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