Gilas yields to NZ, blows Olympic bid | Inquirer Sports

Gilas yields to NZ, blows Olympic bid

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 12:03 AM July 07, 2016

Gilas Pilipinas before New Zealand game. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Gilas Pilipinas before New Zealand game. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

AND just like that, after just two games that showed the best and the worst of Gilas Pilipinas, this basketball-crazy country’s dream of returning to the Olympics will have to wait again.

With a bad first three periods that put them in a 13-point hole the Filipinos couldn’t climb out of, the Philippines has been reduced to a spectator for the rest of the Manila Olympic Qualifying after taking an 89-80 loss to New Zealand last night at Mall of Asia Arena.

The Tall Blacks, as the Kiwis are called, found holes on the Philippine defense time and again and scored from inside and out to not only assure themselves of advancing to the semifinals but also have the chance to bag No. 1 seeding in Group B.

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New Zealand clashes with another Gilas tormentor, France, at 9 p.m. today for the right to play either Turkey or Senegal in the Final Four on Saturday.

The Turks and the Senegalese battle it out at 6:30 p.m. for No. 2 in Group A, which Canada topped after a 58-55 victory over the African champions in the first game.

It was certainly a big letdown for the near-sellout crowd that showed up last night, more so after the Philippines had just come from an 84-93 loss to the world No. 5 French on Tuesday.

The Filipinos, after that effort, were instantly installed as favorites over the Kiwis only for the Philippines to start out cold and give the Tall Blacks all the momentum they needed offensively.
“We needed to play better,” Gilas coach Tab Baldwin told reporters. “We didn’t play our best basketball today, and that’s on us. But they (Filipinos) gave it their best shot. I guess we just have to fight for another day.”
Andray Blatche was scoreless in the first period and Terrence Romeo had zilch in the first half as the Philippines, after forging a 15-all count, trailed the rest of the way.

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Blatche and Romeo did come to life in the fourth quarter and the Philippine offense got going, as Gilas came within 60-62 with 7:37 left.
The Kiwis, however, hit their shots, to foil the rally and snuff the collective fight out of the Filipinos.

The Webster brothers Tai and Corey paced the Kiwis with 25 and 23 points, respectively, with Tai completing a double-double with 11 rebounds.

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Isaac Fotu, a 7-foot center, hit three triples on the way to 17 points.
Thomas Abercrombie completed New Zealand’s balanced attack with 13, including seven in a 16-5 blitzkrieg that had the Kiwis peeling away, 78-65, with 2:32 to go.

Blatche, held to just four points in the first half, finished with 30.

And when the final buzzer sounded, the naturalized Filipino spent a few minutes on center court, his head bowed after failing to lead the Philippines again to accomplishing its mission in a tournament.

Jason Castro had 13 points, June Mar Fajardo and Jeff Chan 11 each for the Filipinos, who huddled with Blatche later on and waved to their loyal fans, some of them wiping tears.

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The scores:
NEW ZEALAND 89—Webster T. 25, Webster C. 23, Fotu 17, Abercrombie 13, Vukona 6, Ili 2, Bartlett 2, Loe 1, Anthony 0, Karena 0.
GILAS PILIPINAS 80—Blatche 30, Castro 13, Chan 11, Fajardo 11, Rosario 7, Romeo 5, Reyes 2, Parks 1, Norwood 0, Pingris 0, Aguilar 0, De Ocampo 0.
Quarters: 21-17, 38-31, 60-53, 89-80

TAGS: Basketball, Gilas Pilipinas, New Zealand, Olympics

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