Gilas Pilipinas dumps India, sweeps Fiba Asia 2nd round
CHANGSHA CITY, China – Coming out way off its sharpest form, Gilas Pilipinas used one tried and tested formula in laying a fifth straight foe by the wayside – plain old hard work.
Flat for most of the first three quarters, the Filipinos struggled against India on Tuesday afternoon before prevailing, 99-65, to formalize top ranking in Group E to gain the lightest possible assignment in the quarterfinals of the Fiba Asia Olympic Qualifier here.
The Filipinos pressed all game and reaped the fruits of their labor only late in the third period as the Indians put up a stubborn stand that had the game hanging in the balance three-fourths of the way.
With the win, the Filipinos finished the two-round preliminaries with a 4-1 record and will clash either with Lebanon or Jordan – No. 4 in Group F – for a place in the Final Four.
The tournament takes its last break on Wednesday with the KO stages to start the following day.
Gilas was dragged into a nip-and-tuck game by the tall Indians the entire first half, as the Filipinos couldn’t find the mark the way they did in scoring a scintillating 87-73 upset of defending champion Iran on Monday afternoon.
The Filipinos worked their way into a rhythm in the second quarter, never letting off defensively as they scooted away late in the third period to take a 65-50 lead into the fourth that the Indians never came close to putting a dent on.
“It was a tough game today and we expected a tough game,” Gilas coach Tab Baldwin said. “We were kind of flat in the first half and again, their zone (defense) contributed to that.
“But again our energy guys kind of got us through that first half, and as a team, we found a lot of energy in the second half,” Baldwin said.
Terrence Romeo came off the bench to shoot 20 points and issue four assists, the last of them coming in the waning seconds when he found Matt Ganuelas for a spectacular alley-oop dunk for the final Gilas basket.
“I wanted us to finish on a high,” Romeo, who has done a lot of damage on the enemy in the last two games, said in Filipino. “We actually ran that play before, but Matt couldn’t finish it off with a dunk. But I really wanted that play.”
Six Filipinos tossed in 12 points or more with the naturalized center Andray Blatche contributing 15 in 25 minutes and Ranidel de Ocampo firing 13.
Gilas connected on 9-of-26 attempts from beyond three-point zone with Jason Castro making all of his two tries for 12 points like Marc Pingris and Calvin Abueva.
Romeo had three triples and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the stripe.
Though Blatche snared down only three rebounds, the Filipinos still won out in the rebounding battle, 50-38, with the undersized Abueva and Intal grabbing seven each.
Skipper Vishesh Bhriguvanshi paced the Indians with 21 points built around five three-pointers, with Amritpal Singh shooting 18 and grabbing 13 rebounds.
India, despite the loss, will qualify as the No. 4 seed in Group E and will clash with host China, the top seed in Group F, for a place in the Final Four.
GILAS PILIPINAS 99 – Romeo 20, Blatche 15, De Ocampo 13, Abueva 12, Pingris 12, Castro 12, Hontiveros 6, Ganuelas 5, Intal 2, Norwood 2, Thoss 0, Taulava 0.
INDIA 65 – Bhriguvanshi 21, Am Singh 18, Amj Singh 11, Yad Singh 7, Pari 5, Shinde 3, Kaushik 0, Prakash 0, Arumugam 0, Gill 0.
Quarters: 16-17, 42-36, 65-50, 99-95.