In their first and only tuneup game before the 19th Asian Games, the two-week-old Gilas Pilipinas narrowly defeated KBL team Changwon LG, 86-81, at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Friday.
Ginebra boys Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson, alongside newcomer Arvin Tolentino made the much-needed clutch baskets in the fourth quarter to rally the Philippines to the victory.
The game was knotted at 70 in the earlygoings of the payoff period when Tolentino, Brownlee, Thompson, and Ange Kouame joined hands to establish a nine-point lead with 4:52 to go, 84-75.
However, Dong Seop Lim kept the Sakers in the game with five straight points to inch within four but Brownlee delivered the dagger while Gilas held their own on defense for the win.
“We did some really positive things out there. We moved the ball well, we had 14 assists in the first half. I thought first half was much better than our second half,” said interim Gilas head coach Tim Cone.
Brownlee top-scored for the Nationals with 19 points and five rebounds, while June Mar Fajardo was a force down low with 16 points.
Calvin Oftana dazzled with 13 points and 11 rebounds, Thompson supplied 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Tolentino and CJ Perez had nine and eight points, respectively.
Dante Cunningham led the way for Changwon with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Assem Marei added 13 points and eight rebounds as well.
Justin Gutang, who played with College of St. Benilde before, hurt his foot in the second quarter and did not return in the second half for the Sakers.
Gilas are scheduled to fly to China on Sunday. They will start their Asiad campaign on Tuesday against Bahrain before facing Thailand and Jordan.