The Philippine Men’s National Basketball Team showed its lethal form down the stretch to dismantle the iECO Green Warriors-PBA D-League All Stars in a tune-up, 99-82, Sunday morning at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City.
The Filipino dribblers lost hold of a double-digit lead early in the third quarter, but managed to make up for it come the final frame thanks to a blistering 14-2 scoring spree to take the Green Warriors down once and for all.
“We finished the game really strong,” said national head coach Yeng Guiao. “This is a strong team that boss Dioceldo Sy formed. It has two or three imports with good quality locals, so it’s a good test for us. We needed this game badly.”
The Nationals already built a 14-point wall, 49-35, with 7:54 to go in the third quarter, but the Green Warriors chipped away the lead little by little. Eventually, they would knock within two, 70-72, with 8:31 remaining in the final frame.
iECO, however, failed to at least tie the game up after that, as the Filipino cagers went on a rampage. Japeth Aguilar’s jumper in the 8:07-mark sparked a 14-2 blitz that helped Team Pilipinas restore order, 86-72, with 5:11 left.
They would go on to lead by as much as 19, 99-80, after Poy Erram’s lay-up with about 55 seconds left to play.
“Maganda na [chemistry ng team],” lauded the veteran bench strategist of his wards. “Actually, that’s one thing we were trying to observe today. We haven’t jelled like we jelled with the Asian Games team, but we’re close to that.”
Erram, Aguilar, Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee, Asi Taulava, Beau Belga, Raymond Almazan, Ian Sangalang, Alex Cabagnot, Scottie Thompson, Allein Maliksi, Stanley Pringle, and Marcio Lassiter all played in the tune-up match.
They did miss Christian Standhardinger (bum stomach, absent) and Greg Slaughter (ankle injury).
The flag-bearers faced an iECO side that is bound for the Terrific 12 tournament in Macau, China next week. The team is mentored by Ariel Vanguardia, and features a mix of PBA D-League stars, ex-pros, and two imports.
“We’re very thankful for this scrimmage to boss Dioceldo and coach Ariel. Service to the country rin yung ginawa nila,” said Guiao. “Desperado talaga kami na makapag-compete kahit papaano before we compete against Iran.”
Team Pilipinas will have its final preparations tomorrow, Monday, before flying to Tehran, Iran at night. They will face the Iranians on September 13.