China survives gutsy PH
JAKARTA—The Great Wall came within inches of crumbling down.
Poy Erram and Paul Lee missed what could have been insurance baskets down the stretch Tuesday night as Gilas Pilipinas—hastily assembled and all—narrowly lost to title favorite China, 82-80, in an effort that fanned the team’s medal hopes in the 18th Asian Games.
The Filipinos blew an 80-77 lead with 81 seconds left, failing to score with Erram bungling a short stab that could have padded the lead to five and Lee missing a potential winning trey in front of a sellout gallery at Gelora Bung Karno’s Basketball Hall.
Jordan Clarkson electrified fans in his first game as a Filipino, but overextended himself in the process and cramped up in the last two minutes.
Still, it was a performance to remember for Gilas, which came over here with less than two weeks to prepare and wasn’t given much of a chance against the Chinese even with Clarkson joining the team.
And coach Yeng Guiao, who called the shots magnificently, didn’t look like a man who lost at all.
“What more can I ask for?” he said. “They played their hearts out, we had a chance to win and just didn’t get the breaks.
“I don’t consider this a loss,” he said. “It was a gallant stand if I ever saw one.”
Dwarfed in every conceivable position, the Filipinos roared back from a 12-point second quarter deficit, riding Clarkson’s unbelievable third quarter effort on both ends to make it close.
The Filipinos got their first taste of the lead from the first quarter with 3:09 remaining after Christian Standhardinger scored on two free throws that capped a 10-0 spurt for 76-74.
Lee found his range at the right time, leading Gilas in that sterling run together with Stanley Pringle as Clarkson had to be recalled to the bench because he was cramping up.
Guiao was all praises for Clarkson, who scored 16 of his 28 points in the third: “He showed his fighting heart and what more can you ask of him?”