Hontiveros catches fire in OT as Gilas nips New Zealand
TAIPEI—In a situation where nothing but character could bail the team out, Gilas Pilipinas got the lift it needed from old hands whose hearts and composure have never been questioned.
Jason Castro and Dondon Hontiveros scored in streaks and Asi Taulava came off the bench to provide the muscle for the Filipinos, who rallied from 16 points down before pulling out a 92-88 overtime win over New Zeland’s Wellington Saints on Friday in the Jones Cup at Xinzhuang gymnasium here.
Castro finished with 22 points, shooting 11 of the Philippines’ final 13 points in regulation, including a left-handed layup with 19.2 seconds left to forge extension at 78-all.
Hontiveros then opened extra time with three straight triples and then finished off the Kiwis with two free throws with 7.1 remaining as Gilas kept its wafer-thin chances of winning the title after rising to 4-2 overall.
The duo’s offensive explosion more than made up for the absence of Terrence Romeo, the team’s leading scorer who had to be rested because of a slightly swollen left ankle sustained in a losing game against Iran on Thursday afternoon.
“There’s no magic in basketball; it was just all hard work for us,” Gilas coach Tab Baldwin said. “It seemed like we played a bad game in the second half, but no, we just couldn’t make our shots.
“The irony is that we hardly missed a shot in the fourth quarter and in overtime. That’s the way the game is.”
Taulava was supposed to take a rest against the Kiwis, having come from a hard game against Hamed Haddadi and the Iranians.
“I didn’t want him to play at all,” Baldwin said. “He gave us a boost in the second half. That’s a 42-year-old guy, let me remind you, that when I asked to perform, was ready, not only with effort but to also play intelligently.”
The Philippines was held to seven second-quarter points and to the same total in the first six minutes of the third, trailing 39-55 as Wellington looked headed for a breeze, until the Filipinos slowly crept back behind the trio.
Hontiveros, the 38-year-old Cebu hotshot, scored all but two of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and in overtime. All of his five triples came in that same stretch.
For the Philippines to win this tournament again for the first time since 2012, it must win its last two games—against the Americans and Chinese Taipei-B—and hope that the Iranians fall to Spartak Primorye, also on Saturday.
In that case, Gilas, Iran and the Russians could end up in a three-way tie which the Philippines will win after beating Spartak by 14 points and losing to the Iranians by nine.
Brian Davis led the Kiwis with 31 points and 13 rebounds.
The Philippines again won the battle off the boards, 42-37, with Calvin Abueva snaring 10 rebounds in just 11 minutes and Taulava finishing with six that went with 10 points.
GILAS PILIPINAS 92—Castro 22, Hontiveros 21, Thoss 11, Abueva 11, Taulava 10, David 5, Norwood 3, Rosario 3, Pingris 2, Tautuaa 2, Ramos 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
WELLINGTON SAINTS 88—David 31, Ruscoe 17, Devendorf 14, Turner 10, Newton 5, Ekenasio 5, Adams 4, Mills 2.
Quarters: 25-25, 32-42, 52-59, 78-all, 92-88