Gilas escapes USA for 2nd place as Iran rules Jones Cup 2015
TAIPEI – Gilas Pilipinas versus the United States—the latest installment—carried a lot less weight compared to the ones played before in the Jones Cup.
But it didn’t mean that the game lacked the great plays, the excitement and the drama because pride was on the line more than anything else on Saturday night before a boisterous throng of OFWs enjoying their day off at Xinzhuang gymnasium here.
Playing without a point guard and its two leading scorers, Gilas ran early and then held off the aging Americans in a wild finish to pull off a 78-74 victory that practically assured the Filipinos of their first runner-up finish in this eight-nation event.
Sonny Thoss nailed three straight medium-range jumpers at crunchtime and Dondon Hontiveros—like he did against the Wellington Saints of New Zealand Friday afternoon—sealed the deal with two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining.
Gilas will close out its eight-game schedule against the winless Chinese Taipei-B squad at 1 p.m. on Sunday with an expected win putting them in a second place finish behind Iran, which copped the title after a 78-54 ripping of Spartak Primorye of Russia.
Terrence Romeo, down with a swollen left ankle, and Jimmy Alapag, who has a leg injury, were joined in the sidelines by Jason Castro, whom coach Tab Baldwin elected to rest after a hard game against the Wellington Saints of New Zealand on Friday.
Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Gabe Norwood quarterbacked a strong running game that the Americans couldn’t keep up with, as Gilas took a 55-37 lead late in the third quarter before encountering trouble in the stretch.
Thoss then made those jumpers and opened up a 74-66 lead for the Philippines going into the final 1:23.
Calvin Abueva scored 20 points, had eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and a block in a performance that showcased his great all-around ability that has led people back home conceding a slot to him in Baldwin’s Final 12.
Former Purefoods import Marquin Chandler fired 20 points and had 10 boards, Cory Bradford finished with 19 and ex-GlobalPort reinforcement Calvin Warner had 17 and 16 rebounds for the Americans.
Gilas has now won its last two clashes with the Americans in the Jones Cup, the other one coming in 2012 when LA Tenorio rescued the Philippines in the fourth quarter and in overtime for the title-clinching win in the final day.
Thoss finished with 13 points like Gary David and Gilas, which gang-rebounded the entire game to beat the taller, heftier Americans off the boards, 46-41.
Iran ruled the Jones Cup for fifth time here after a 78-54 win over Spartak Primorye of Russia in an earlier game for an unreachable 7-1 card.
Mahdi Kamrani scored 20 points, Hamed Afagh 16 and Hamed Haddadi had 11 and seven rebounds for the Iranians, the defending Asian champions who were also kings here for three straight years from 2009 and two years ago when Gilas did not play.
The Iranians’ only loss came at the hands of these same Americans when Iran coaching staff decided to rest Haddadi in preparation for the Filipinos whom they beat the next day, 74-65.
The Philippines, which won the last of its four titles with a different Gilas crew in 2012, finished second for the first time. The Filipinos also have three third place efforts, all coming in the 2000s.