Gilas Pilipinas bows to Puerto Rico, 73-77
Group B Games Wednesday
(Centro Deportivo San Pablo)
2 p.m. – Senegal vs Gilas Pilipinas
6 p.m. – Croatia vs Puerto Rico
8 p.m. – Argentina vs Greece
SEVILLE, Spain – Another game, another heartbreak for Gilas Pilipinas.
Blowing first half control and sputtering in the end, the Filipinos on Tuesday (Wednesday night in Manila) took yet another bitter setback, 73-77, at the hands of undermanned Puerto Rico to lose for the fourth straight time in their first World Cup stint in almost four decades.
JJ Barea, left as the best player in the Puerto Rican roster with an injury to another NBA veteran in Carlos Arroyo, was the small player that stood out in the endgame as he towed Puerto Rico to its first win also in four games in Group B play at Centro Deportivo San Pablo here.
The Philippines’ rotation of talented point guards was simply at Barea’s mercy as Jason Castro, Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio failed to counter their Puerto Rican counterpart’s brilliance in the endgame.
Barea finished with 30 points, polishing off the Filipinos with eight straight points that rallied the Puerto Ricans from a 67-70 deficit to a 75-70 lead going into the final 30 seconds.
Puerto Rico, which rose to 1-3, thus stayed alive but its fate of advancing is not in its hands as a win by Senegal over Argentina in the game being played at press time would also shut the door on Barea and Co.
Angel Vasallo was also out of commission for the Puerto Ricans, who had only nine of their 10 healthy players suiting up.
Andray Blatche, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds but committed a game-high six turnovers, gave the Philippines its last taste of the lead, 70-67, after connecting on a three-pointer with 3:35 left.
And the Filipinos had a chance to bloat that, only to fall into some moments of indecisiveness that led to Barea answering that triple to sew it up for the last time at 70 with 2:07 to play.
Team Philippines thus dropped out of further contention and will play a non-bearing game against Senegal Thursday with their goals now different from the one the Filipinos set out here for.
“We just couldn’t make shots in the end,” rued Gilas coach Chot Reyes. “We kept turning the ball over in the second half. We were right there.
“We have the skills to play at this level, but we don’t have the experience to win,” added Reyes, who apologized to his countrymen back home for still failing to notch a win for the Filipinos.
Gilas got off to a brilliant start and played well enough to post leads of as large as 14 points in the second period. The Filipinos were also making the right decisions on both ends for most of the first three quarters and were in the lead until the final minute of the third.
Tenorio, the 2012 Jones Cup MVP, had his breakout game and finished with 18 points but was silenced by Barea in the end. The 5-foot-8 Tenorio drained the last of his two triples with 4:42 left for 67-65 for the Philippines.
“First of all, I’d like to commend Gilas, they are a great team.
They have small guards who can make shots just like me,” said Barea.
Three of four of the Philippines losses have come by very slim margins.
The Filipinos, playing in the tournament for the first time since 1978, opened up with a 78-81 overtime loss to Croatia but had a chance to win it in regulation Saturday afternoon.
Two days later, Argentina escaped with an 85-81 victory after the Philippines, which also had control most of the game and even led the third-ranked team in the world by 10 in the first, failed to execute down the stretch.
Ricky Sanchez and David Huertas had 13 points each, with Barea also plucking down five rebounds. Barea had just two assists because he looked to shoot first before passing as he tried to maximize his advantage in size to any of his defender.
The only time that Barea saw a bigger man in front of him was inside the final 3:30 and the Philippines holding on to that three-point lead.
Gabe Norwood, who was big offensively against the Argentines but remains to be the best guard-defender for coach Chot Reyes, spelled Tenorio from there to take on Barea, who responded to the challenge by knocking down the trey that tied it all up for the last time at 70.
PUERTO RICO – 77 – Barea 30, Sanchez 13, Huertas 13, Rivera 5, Galindo 5, Diaz 4, Franklin 2, Clemente 2, Balkman 2.
GILAS PILIPINAS 73 – Blatche 23, Tenorio 18, Lee 10, Alapag 6, Norwood 6, Castro 4, De Ocampo 2, Pingris w, Aguilar 0, Chan 0.
Quarters: 25-13, 44-39, 61-57, 77-73.