Top-ranked team Lithuania showcased its experience, lording over the young Gilas Pilipinas cadets, 91-80, in the 39th William Jones Cup, Friday afternoon at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium in Taiwan.
The loss drags down the Philippines to a 4-3 record, sending them down to the fourth spot, with their chances of finishing with a medal now hanging in the balance. The Lithuanians, meanwhile, improved to 6-1.
But despite suffering from the defeat that sent their podium finish hopes bleak, the outspoken Gilas head coach Chot Reyes still lauded his wards’ effort, after going head-to-head with a “high-quality European team.”
“I was incredibly proud of the team,” said Reyes. “In my mind this is the best team in the Jones Cup. We battled on almost on even terms, except for that bad stretch in the second quarter. We basically played them even the rest of the game.”
“I’m very happy with the effort, and I thought a little breaks here and there, we could’ve made it closer,” Reyes furthered.
Kiefer Ravena and Mike Myers anchored the Philippines with 14 points apiece. The six-foot combo guard added five assists to his statline, while the six-foot-nine Myers added seven rebounds and three steals.
Once down by as much as 20, 70-50, late in the third, Gilas made a spirited comeback late in the payoff period and trimmed the gap to just nine, 85-76, after a Roger Pogoy lay-up off a steal with just 1:52 on the clock.
But the Lithuanians proved why they are the tournament leaders. Eigirdas Zukauskas was sent to the charity stripe twice, and he converted all four of his free throws to shut the door for Gilas, 91-78, with 1:14 left.
Wingmen Roger Pogoy and Matthew Wright chipped in 13 markers apiece for the Filipinos, along with two caroms each. Carl Cruz produced 10 markers, nailing three of the Philippines’ seven out of 23 triples in the game.
Gilas played well at the start and even saw them lead by eight, 18-10, late in the first period, but sloppy play in the second quarter cost them the advantage. The Lithuanians then outscored them, 33-19 to seize the lead, 50-41, at the half.
Zukauskas led top-billed the Lithuanians with a game-high 22 points along with four boards and seven assists. Edvinas Seskus supplied 19 markers, while Vingelis Sarunas made 13.
The Lithuanians won almost the majority of the team stats department. They shot 77 percent of their two-pointers; nailed 14 treys; dished out 14 assists; and outrebounded Gilas, 32-23. However, they committed 20 turnovers.
Gilas will go up against India tomorrow, July 21, at 1:00 PM, their second to the last match of the tournament.
Gilas Pilipinas (81) – Ravena 14, Myers 14, Pogoy 13, Wright 13, Cruz 10, Standhardinger 9, Jalalon 5, Jose 2, Ferrer 0, Parks 0, Belo 0.
Lithuania (90) – Žukauskas 22, Šeškus E 19, Vingelis 13, Beniušis 11, Linkevičius 11, Šeškus D 7, Jocys 6, Volkus2, Apsitis 0.
Quarterscores: 22-17, 41-50, 59-72, 80-91.