After suffering two straight defeats at the hands of rival South Korea and host Lebanon, Gilas Pilipinas was able to compose itself late against Lebanon, taking a 75-70 win on Sunday night to salvage seventh place in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, Sunday evening.
The victory comes as a fitting exit for the 2013 and 2015 silver medalists, who absorbed disappointing losses to Korea in the quarterfinals last Wednesday and to Lebanon in the first round of the classification phase just yesterday.
Gunners Matthew Wright and Terrence Romeo lead Gilas’ attack with 13 points apiece, but it was the Globalport Batang Pier star who provided the offensive magic in the end-game, as he helped the Nationals avoid a major meltdown.
The Filipinos were on the verge of pulling away, 65-59, midway in the final frame, but the Middle Eastern cagers sizzled for 11 straight points — punctuated by Mousa Alawadi’s bucket — to steal Gilas’ thunder, 70-65, with 1:47 remaining.
But then Romeo did wonders for Gilas in the final stretch. He sank a booming triple with 58 seconds left, and his huge pass to Japeth Aguilar for a basket lifted the Pinoys up, 71-70, with 28 seconds left to play.
From there, the Jordanians were rattled. Romeo was able to force Mahmoud Abdeen into a backcourt violation that led to free throws for Wright. The Filipino-Canadian sniper went perfect from the charity stripe after being fouled, and Roger Pogoy’s breakaway layup in the closing seconds were enough for Gilas to seal the match and the seventh-place finish.
Carl Cruz had nine markers for Gilas, while Jayson Castro steered the ship with eight points and eight assists.
Gilas had to change their jerseys during the halftime break, however, as both teams wore their dark jerseys.
Alawadi led the now-eighth-placers Jordan with 21 points on 17 attempts. Mohammad Hussein supplied 13 markers.
The Philippines shot a horrid 34 percent from the floor, but their ball movement was on point, as they had 21 assists. Their bench outplayed Jordan’s reserve unit, 38-6, and their defense forced their counterparts to 16 errors.
Gilas Pilipinas 75 – Romeo 13, Wright 13, Cruz 9, Aguilar 8, Castro William 8, Abueva 6, Norwood 5, Almazan 4, Jalalon 4, Fajardo 3, Pogoy 2.
Jordan 70 – Alawadi 21, Hussein 13, Alhamarsheh 12, Abdeen 10, Abu Hawwas 8, Bzai 3, Zaghab 3, Abu Wazaneh 0, Eid 0.
Quarterscores: 17-17, 35-27, 58-53, 75-70.