Justine Baltazar shone brightly as Gilas Pilipinas trounced Saudi Arabia, 77-61, for their first win in the 10th King Abdullah Cup, Tuesday evening at the Prince Hamza Sport Hall in Amman, Jordan.
The lengthy 6-foot-8 wingman led the way with 16 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field. He also went 4-of-4 from beyond the arc as the Filipino dribblers atoned for their opening day loss to Egypt barely 24 hours ago.
It was the La Salle Green Archer who broke a 14-all deadlock with a triple as a response to the opposition’s 10-0 run. His free throws moments later then gave his side the 19-14 lead heading into the second period.
Baltazar sank a couple more triples in the next frame to put Gilas up by double-digits again, 27-16, with 8:02 on the clock. They eventually led by 17, 43-26, with 2:42 remaining before the break.
It all became a one-sided affair from there, with the Nationals leading by as much as 20, following Dwight Ramos’ lay-up with 6:44 to go in the fourth.
The Saudi Arabians, though, pulled off a run to slice the deficit to half, 59-69, with less than five minutes to spare. Then Carl Tamayo’s triple with 2:57 left to play served as a dagger as it pushed the lead back to 13.
Things got a bit chippy approaching the final two minutes when Nassir Abo Jalas got fouled by Thirdy Ravena following a cut inside. No untoward incident took place, although the former got called for a technical foul.
Naturalized center Angelo Kouame and Isaac Go, the top scorers versus Egypt, had 10 points apiece in the victory that hiked Gilas’ card to 1-1.
Gilas finally had its three-point shooting clicking after shooting a dismal 4-of-27 against the Pharaohs, going 12-of-28 this time.
Meanwhile, Mohammed Alsuwailem had 18 points and five rebounds to lead Saudi Arabia in their second loss in as many games.
Saudi is one of the five teams that will compete in the extra qualifying draw of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, which the organization postponed to next year.
Gilas will next face Jordan-B on Wednesday, July 28, at 9:00 PM (Manila time) in a bid to finish in the Top Four and reach the semifinals.
Philippines (77) — Baltazar 16, Kouame 10, Go 10, Ildefonso 8, Ramos 7, Ravena 6, Heading 6, Tamayo 5, Navarro 3, Abarrientos 3, Chiu 2, Belangel 1, Suerte 0, Mi. Nieto 0.
Saudi Arabia (62) — Alsuwailem 18, Gabar 12, Jalas 10, Kadi 8, Shubayli 5, Ma. Almarwani 2, Mo. Almarwani 2, Albargawi 2, Alhosawe 2, Belal 1, Alsager 0, Althalabi 0, Brnawi 0.
Quarterscores: 19-14, 43-30, 65-49, 77-62.