Gilas whips Bahrain to start Asian Games medal bid
MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas broke away early and played with sustained brilliance on Tuesday to crush Bahrain, 89-61, for a swashbuckling start in the 19th Asian Games men’s basketball tournament at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center in China.
Justin Brownlee got going right from the jump, his do-it-all play resulting in 20 points and 10 rebounds that went with three assists and three steals.
CJ Perez, meanwhile, made good on his promise to contribute big despite his late call-up, contributing 15 points off the bench to tie Ange Kouame, Gilas’ other naturalized ace.
Calvin Oftana chipped in 10 points in the effort that had Gilas taking a headstart in Group C play. But more importantly, Gilas secured a massive boost to its confidence going into the match against familiar Thailand set this Thursday at ZJU Gymnasium.
“We didn’t play Thailand in the Southeast Asian Games. But we saw them in the SEA Games, but we’re not matched up against them. They were knocked out by Cambodia,” said Cone of the Thais, who are led by Thai-Americans Tyler Lamb and Moses Morgan.
The Filipinos beat the Bahrainis in nearly every statistical race in the contest, enjoying leads as big as 34 points—a commendable outing considering how hastily this edition of the Gilas squad was put together.
With the game already secured, Cone was able to give late additions Perez, Kevin Alas, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross and Arvin Tolentino much-needed floor time together. Perez and Co. just joined Gilas a week before the Asiad.
“That was important for us to get that extra time. The five guys are still feeling their way around. And again, those are the guys who we’re gonna depend on as they decide how far we go,” said Cone.
Maitham Jameel and Mosti Rashed both finished with at least 13 points for the enemy. Wayne Chism scored only five points to go with his 13 rebounds, his production significantly hurting the Bahrainis’ chances in the contest.
Bahrain will try to tab its first win in the meet when it goes up against Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jordan also this Thursday.