Gilas still put on a show on their home floor on Sunday evening. Problem was, it was just a two-man show.
The collective efforts of Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos were not enough to topple the Tall Blacks of New Zealand, falling 88-63 in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Ravena paced Gilas with 23 points, five rebounds, five assists, and five steals while Ramos tallied a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. But Gilas needed more from the rest to keep up with the 27th-ranked team in the world.
New Zealand opened the floodgates in the third canto, largely in part due to their size but also the free throw shooting of the Filipinos.
Already facing a 51-39 hole with 5:46 left in the third canto, Ravena had a chance to put Gilas back in the mix as he was fouled by Ethan Rusbatch while attempting a triple.
The winger who plays for San-En in the B.League though missed all of his free throw attempts. It led to a Taane Samuel trey that kickstarted an 11-6 run that helped give New Zealand a 65-48 lead heading into the final frame.
Those missed free throws were the story of the game as Gilas shot itself in the foot, going just 10-of-23 from the charity stripe. Well, it also didn’t help that the Kiwis, who had an average height of 6-foot-6, outrebounded Gilas 54-34.
“It was a very big game and we played the local team, the home team, in the country it’s always big,” said Tall Blacks head coach Pero Cameron. “The sport is always big here in the Philippines. It was a very good turnout, the crowd tonight, which we loved to see and hopefully, things are getting back to normal. It always brings a different dynamic to the game.
“I felt that both teams were in it and I’m glad about the way our team finished the game,” he continued.
Dion Prewster and Tom Vodanovich, the last two New Zealand-National Basketball League Most Valuable Players, led New Zealand with identical 20-point and 10-rebound lines. The two pounced on Gilas’ bigs which led to almost all of them in foul trouble.
In the final frame, Robert Bolick put up one last fight for Gilas, knocking bomb after bomb to cut the lead down to as low as 15. With no support though, New Zealand would pick Gilas apart one last time, gaining a 26-point lead late.
“I was very proud of the effort of our guys. We played a tough team and we didn’t back down,” said Gilas head coach Chot Reyes. “We kept ourselves in the ball game until late in the third quarter but like I said, couldn’t ask for anything more from our players. I thought they came in and executed.
“Credit to New Zealand, they were able to pick apart our defensive schemes and that’s how it got reflected in the score of the ball game,” he continued.
Bolick had 10 points to close out the double-digit scorers for Gilas.
Besides Prewster and Vodanovich, Rob Loe also had a swell game with 15 points and 10 rebounds while former DLSU Green Archer Taane Samuel had 12 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting clip.
New Zealand (Group A, 2-0) still has India (1-0) tomorrow at 3:00PM before closing out the window.
“They’ve adjusted well and I expect them to be better tomorrow,” said Cameron about the team they beat last Friday with a 101-46 rout. “We’ve got a quick turnaround, we need to look at some of the things that we need to adjust, be better on, and always look at them as a team and look at what they like to do, what coach likes to do for them and create some things, stop some things.
“We’re excited to be playing. Like everybody, it’s always tough playing on the second day,” he closed.
Gilas (1-1) will face both India and New Zealand on the road come the third window from June 30-July 3.
New Zealand 88 – Vodanovich 20, Prewster 20, Loe 15, Samuel 12, Rusbatch 10, Harris 5, Fahrensohn 4, Gold 0, Cook-Green 0, Rodger 0.
Philippines 63 – Ravena 23, Ramos 18, Bolick 10, Kouame 5, Pogoy 4, Rosario 2, Williams 1, Erram 0, Montalbo 0, De Liano 0, Navarro 0, Tungcab 0.
Quarterscores: 22-19, 40-30, 65-48, 88-63.