Despite having just 10 healthy bodies, Gilas Pilipinas still took care of business to close out their Window 3 campaign in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Behind the duo of Dwight Ramos and Kiefer Ravena, the Philippines cruised past India, taking a 79-63 victory to finish second in Group A, Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Gilas ended the first round with a 2-2 record while keeping India winless. And it was a good bounce-back victory for the Philippines who absorbed a 46-point beating at the hands of the Tall Blacks last Friday in Auckland.
“It was an important game for us. We needed to win,” said Gilas head coach Nenad Vucinic. “We had a tough trip in New Zealand. The way we got there, it was very difficult to play that game because of the level of the opposition.
“We were all disappointed with the performance and we needed to bounce back. I want to congratulate the players on getting a good win,” the Serbian-Kiwi head coach added.
As what has been the norm for Gilas in this cycle, it was Dwight Ramos and a Ravena (this time Kiefer) who led Gilas’ surge.
Ramos dropped nine of Gilas’ 21 points in the opening quarter, almost outscoring the entire India team all by his lonesome, which gave the hosts an 11-point advantage.
Gilas’ defense then stifled their visitors in the second frame led to a 45-24 halftime lead.
“I think our defense in the first half was very good. We created a lot of turnovers for India and that set us up,” said Vucinic.
However, Gilas played much more relaxed in the second half, much to the dismay of the former Tall Blacks head coach, who is also a close friend of Tab Baldwin.
“Second half, we probably should have put our foot off the pedal but we are a young team so the oscillations and up and downs are expected. We are happy with the result but we know and we can play a lot better come the Asia Cup,” he said.
Ramos led Gilas with 21 points, five rebounds, four steals, and two assists while Ravena added 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field with four assists, two steals, and two rebounds.
Gilas also got good outings from William Navarro and Geo Chiu with the former finishing with 11 points — including a highlight jam in the final frame — while the latter grabbed 11 rebounds.
Carl Tamayo also continued to dazzle in a Pilipinas uniform, tallying nine points and nine rebounds.
Both nations, along with New Zealand, will advance to Group E along with Lebanon (4-1), Saudi Arabia (3-2), and Jordan (3-2). The fourth window will be from August 25-29, 2022.
Gilas are also set to compete in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup which begins on July 12 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Philippines is also slotted with India, Lebanon, and New Zealand in Group D of the continental meet.
India was led by Muin Bek Hafeez with 13 points while Sahaij Pratap Singh Sekhon and Arvind Kumar Muthu Krishnan chipped in 12 points apiece.
Philippines 79 – Ramos 21, Ravena 12, Navarro 11, Tamayo 9, Quiambao 6, Lopez 6, Chiu 5, Abarrientos 5, Belangel 2, Abando 2.
India 63 – Hafeez 13, Sekhon 12, Muthu Krishnan 12, Bhriguvanshi 8, Rawat 7, Goti 7, Aryan 2, Prince 2, Nayak 0, Tomar 0.
Quarterscores: 21-10, 45-24, 65-44, 79-63.