Gilas Pilipinas failed to sustain their strong start, melting down in the second half and bowing to Australia in their 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers encounter, 68-84, Thursday evening at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.
The Aussies are now on top of Group B with a clean 3-0 slate, while the Filipinos have dropped to 2-1 at second.
“We had a good start. We came into this ball game with eyes wide open. We had no illusions facing a very strong, tough Aussie team which is 10th in the world. All we wanted to do is to compete,” said Gilas head coach Chot Reyes. “And I felt we were able to do that, we competed, we competed hard.”
June Mar Fajardo kept the Philippines alive, and led the visitors with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting with two rebounds. Matthew Wright produced nine markers, and Roger Pogoy finished with eight points on four shots.
Gilas had a splendid first half, limiting the home team to a tournament-low 19 points in the opening frame. The Filipino dribblers even led by as much as five, 30-25, after Fajardo’s flip shot with 5:03 left in the second frame.
However, that proved to be the last taste of the lead Gilas would have. Kiefer Ravena sprained his left ankle at the 4:52 mark, and the Boomers took advantage of his absence, as they made a 12-2 blast for a 37-32 lead at the half.
The Australians, from there, never looked back and left the Pinoys in the dust. They had their first taste of a double-digit lead, 54-44, with 3:11 left in the third, and their lead grew to as much as 21, 70-49, with 8:17 remaining in the game.
“We can’t complain on [our] effort. Our game could’ve been better but our effort is there. We thought at least we’ve accounted well for ourselves to compete against this Boomers squad,” added the outspoken mentor.
Naturalized center Andray Blatche only produced eight points — seven in the first half — and seven rebounds, along with two blocks and an assist. Ravena, who still returned to the match, had six markers, two boards, and two dimes.
Cameron Gliddon led the Boomers’ well-deployed attack with 16 points. Center Angus Brandt supplied 13 points, Mitch Creek produced 12 markers and 11 rebounds, and naturalized guard Kevin Lisch had 12 points as well.
Mitchell McCarron only scored a single point, but hauled down 10 caroms.
Gilas will have the chance to bounce back versus the Akatsuki Five of Japan on home soil this Sunday, February 25, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Pilipinas 68 – Fajardo 15, Wright 9, Blatche 8, Pogoy 8, Norwood 7, Ravena 6, Alas 6, Abueva 5, Aguilar 2, Tratter 2, Cruz 0, Malicsi 0.
Australia 84 – Gliddon 16, Brandt 13, Creek 12, Lisch 12, Kay 7, Hodgson 6, Kickert 5, Norton 4, Wagstaff 4, Cadee 2, Sobey 2, McCarron 1.
Quarterscores: 19-19, 32-37, 49-63, 68-84.