New Gilas Five whips Indonesia
Rookie Thirdy Ravena was a revelation as Gilas Pilipinas opened its campaign in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers by turning back lowly Indonesia, 100-70, Sunday at Mahaka Arena in Jakarta.
With a masterful game on both ends, the 6-foot-2 former Ateneo star fired a team-high 23 points on top of eight rebounds and two blocks as the Filipinos finished strong in their opening match of the first of three qualifying windows in Group A.
“Not surprised,” said Gilas coach Mark Dickel of the performance of Ravena, who outshone elder brother and team captain Kiefer. He noted Thirdy’s hard work in practice even when he was under Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin.
Veterans Roger Pogoy and CJ Perez combined for 26 points in backing up Thirdy, while Kiefer and another first-timer, Juan Gomez de Liano, finished with 10 each.
Handled by former Philippine team mentor Rajko Toroman, the Indonesians rallied from an early 16-point deficit to move within four at 51-55 before the Filipinos regained their shooting touch for a 67-53 lead after the third quarter.
The Filipinos had also clobbered the Indonesians, 97-70, when they met in the semifinals of the last Southeast Asian Games last December with an all-pro lineup that included four virtual giants in June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar and Christian Stanhardinger.
All four are out of the Gilas lineup this time for different reasons, but they will surely be needed by the team in its campaign in the next round of the competition.
Next up for Gilas in November is South Korea, which had already routed Indonesia, 109-76, and Thailand, 93-86. Gilas was supposed to play host to Thailand last week but the match was cancelled due to the Covid-19 disease issue and a new schedule has yet to be set.
South Korea and Gilas are expected to advance to the tournament proper after three windows of the Qualifiers along with the top two teams from the five other groups. The third placers from all six groups then play another round to decide the four qualifiers who will complete the field in 2021. INQ
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