Fresh off their monumental 87-83 win over Iran, Gilas 3.0 stayed humble and hungry, just as Coach Tab Baldwin ordered, en route to finishing the second round of the FIBA Asia Championship on top of their bracket. With the 99-65 beating they laid on Team India earlier today—despite the latter’s spot-on impersonation of the deadly Korean shooters in the first half—our boys solidified their position as one of the tournament favorites.
Our ballsy 34-point win in the final game of the preliminaries gave us the right kind of momentum we needed going into the scarier elimination stage of the tourney. So, how did our nationals do it? Our recap of Gilas’ domination of India will provide you the answers.
(But first, a special shout-out to Team India’s Vishesh Bhriguvanshi for playing brilliantly and having his name mentioned on TV a record 432,421 times over the course of the ball game, and forcing us to type his name on Twitter and FB multiple times. Damn you, Vishesh!)
PING COMES ALIVE!
Before facing India, Marc Pingris has been an invisible figure on the Gilas squad. Although Coach Baldwin insists that Ping has been busy doing the intangibles on the defensive end, it’s difficult to feel the impact that the forward has made in the first five games. Against the burly Indian ballers, however, Ping made sure that his presence would no longer be denied. Jean-Marc finished with 12 points on a 6 out of 7 shooting clip with a couple of steals, silencing his naysayers as he played a big role in Gilas’ monstrous 77-point second half output.
RDO (A.K.A. MR. EFFICIENCY)
In just 13 minutes, Ranidel de Ocampo made 85.7 percent of his shots as he netted 13 markers for Gilas. He was the squad’s go-to guy when India was fighting hard in the initial juncture of the game and he played the “main man” role to a tee. Using his Zach Randolph-like touch around the basket and his laudable marksmanship, RDO kept the opponents at bay in the first half—during India’s most spirited run in the game. With his stellar showing, De Ocampo reestablished himself as a force that needs to be unleashed for Team Philippines to book a ticket to the Rio Olympics.
TERRENCE ROMEO LEADS THE USUAL SUSPECTS
The best players of this game have been Gilas’ top guns so far. Team Philippines’ Fab Four, Jayson Castro, Andray Blatche, Terrence Romeo, and Calvin Abueva, once again made the most noise in the outing against India. This time, though, Jayson (the John Lennon of the group) lent the spotlight to our Pambansang Bro, Romeo. The scoring machine from FEU led the Philippines with 20 points, which includes a couple of heart-pounding layups resulting from two of his three steals. Seeing Terrence dance circles around his defenders was delightful, it was like having our own version of Kyrie Irving.
So, who’s going to kill it for Gilas 3.0 in the quarter-finals versus Lebanon? Hopefully every single one of Coach Tab’s charges catches fire. But our gut-feel tells us that the X-factor in the next game will be Dondon Hontiveros. We’re looking at a reprise of the Cebuano hotshot’s 28-point explosion against New Zealand in the Jones Cup.
THE 4TH QUARTER JUGGERNAUT
During mid-third quarter, as Gilas has yet to break away from the hot-shooting Indian ball club that shot the three-ball at 41 percent, some Filipino fans started getting anxious. The Palestine defeat started playing in their heads. But there were 13 guys on the court who never felt any doubt as to who will win the game. Those 13 peeps were, you’ve guessed it, Coach Tab and his boys.
In the fourth period, they decided it was time to hit the NOS button and leave Team India to eat dust. But they didn’t do it by shooting the lights out; instead they did it by putting the clamps down on defense. By the end of the game, Gilas had amassed 15 steals and forced 22 turnovers. The last quarter was a clinic as the Philippine contingent outscored their opponents, 34 to 15, most of those buckets came off their 16 fastbreak points. The lesson to learn here is, when Gilas 3.0’s defense starts rolling, it becomes an avalanche that’s nearly impossible to contain. So defense first, Gilas, defense first.
THE SUPER FINISH
And hooking up for a fitting end to Gilas’ masterful performance versus were Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Terrence Romeo. This deserves a slow clap, people. Let’s do it altogether now.
Onto the quarterfinals. Let’s beat Lebanon, Gilas! Tiwala lang. Puso at utak!