Gilas Pilipinas immediately put an end on questions of the readiness of an all-amateur squad as the national team unleashed a big second quarter on its way to a masterful 93-61 win over Thailand in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers Window 2 late Friday in a bubble in Manama, Bahrain.
Less than a month after its formation, it didn’t take long for the Filipinos to dictate the tempo after a close first quarter when Dwight Ramos teamed up with brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano in the second frame.
From a 21-19 lead after one quarter, the Nationals used a 22-8 run capped by a three-point play from Ramos for a 53-27 advantage – the largest lead for Gilas with 12 seconds left.
The national team took a 53-29 lead at the break.
“Me and coach Tab (Baldwin)… were surprised with the way we played,” said national team mentor Jong Uichico. “The score was not our primary concern, but more in how we should play.”
“We see adjustments from both sides,” added Uichico, referring to the game on Monday against Thailand.
Ramos, an incoming rookie forward of Ateneo, led Gilas with 20 points, seven rebounds, three assists and the same number of steals, while Juan Gomes de Liano and Justin Baltazar contributed 12 points apiece.
The win improved the national team’s record to 2-0 in Group A to tie South Korea, which opted to skip the event due to COVID-19, while Thailand dropped to 0-2 to tie Indonesia.
Uichico, who led the national team to gold medal finish in the Southeast Asian Games in 2015 and 2017, can change his roster and give chance to reigning NCAA MVP Calvin Oftana of San Beda and Jaydee Tungcab of University of the Philippines to play in the second game opposite Thailand.
Uichico, together with Gilas men’s basketball team Project Director and new assistant coach Boyet Fernandez brought 15 players in the bubble, including injured shooter Allyn Bulanadi.
FIBA decided to have an exception for this event where teams are allowed to replace players from the previous roster.
Although a change is expected, the national team is heavily favored after a dominant performance in the first game.
The national team made 35-of-73 (47.95%) shots from the field, including 10-of-31 from three-point territory, while its defense held Thailand to just 19-of-64 (29.69%) shooting.
Gilas also forced Thailand to 22 turnovers, which the Nationals translated to 28 turnover points, and while the two teams had equal rebound totals of 43, Uichico’s squad scored 42 points in the paint.
The event serves as qualifying tournament for the FIBA Asia Cup next year, a tournament previously known as the FIB Asia Championship, which the Nationals won in 1985, and was runner up in 2013 and 2015.
PHILIPPINES 93 – Ramos 20, De Liano J.G. 12, Baltazar, 12, Suerte 9, De Liano J.J. 9, Nieto Mi. 8, Go 6, Nieto Ma. 4, Carino 4, Navarro 4, Paras 3, Ildefonso 2.
THAILAND 61 – Wongsawangtham 17, Jaisanuk 12, Suttisin 10, Langsui 6, Jakrawan 5, Chungyampin 5, Muangboon 4, Klaewnarong 2, Lakhan 0, Ghogar 0.
Quarters: 21-19; 53-29; 75-43; 93-61.