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Veterans Hontiveros, Taulava steer Gilas past Wellington Saints in overtime thriller

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Dondon Hontiveros drained three triples as part of 11 of his 21 points in the overtime period to carry Gilas Pilipinas to a come-from-behind victory past New Zealand club Wellington Saints, 92-88 Friday in the 37th William Jones Cup at the Xin Zhuang Gymnasium in Taipei.

Asi Taulava, who entered in the third period, provided the damage as he wiled the Philippines back in the fight against the hard-fighting Saints. He finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds.

Hontiveros nailed back to back threes to open the overtime period although baskets by Brook Ruscoe and Brian Davis ties the count at 84 apiece.

The 38-year-old hotshot then nailed another triple to push the Gilas lead to 87-84 before a split from Castro and a basket by Taulava made it 90-86 for the nationals.

Hontiveros then followed Jordan Mills from deep as the latter hit 2-for-3 although Hontiveros redeemed himself by hitting two more charities to seal the win.

Jayson Castro led Gilas with 22 points and 5 assists and starred in a pivotal fourth quarter rally for coach Tab Baldwin’s troops.

Gilas was still down 57-64 in the fourth quarter when Calvin Abueva and Castro conspired in a 15-8 blast that tied the count at 72.

Castro scored 7 straight in the stretch including a three and four free throws, with the last two tying it at 72.

Davis and Ray Turner answered for the Saints to make it 76-72 although Taulava and Castro responded with baskets to knot the count again, 76-all.

A Davis put back off a Eric Devendorf miss made it 78-76 for the New Zealand squad but Castro drove in the next play coming off a timeout which sent the game to overtime.

Jayson Castro facilitated well early, attacking the paint and dishing to Gary David and Gabe Norwood for open threes that gave Gilas the 13-12 lead.

Sonny Thoss then surprised the Saints as he knocked down jumpers from mid-range to extend the Gilas lead to 17-14.

Foul trouble however, hounded the Philippimes in both the first and second periods as they went over the limit with lots of time left in both of the quarters.

The Saints added to their total from the stripe, hitting a total of 17-for-20 free throws in the first half while back to back baskets by Brian Davis gave the New Zealand side a 42-32 lead entering the break.

In the third period, the Saints leaned on their bigs Davis and Ray Turner as they pounded the interior while a Ruscoe three made it 53-39 for the Saints, which threatened to pull away.

But Asi Taulava’s entry proved to be crucial as he gave Gilas an interior presence on defense. He also scored 6 points as Gilas closed the third period on a 13-6 note to enter the final quarter trailing by only 7, 52-59.

Gilas improved to 4-2 with the win, despite giving 23 more points to the Saints via the free throw line.

The Philippines shot 11-for-27 from three-point area while also assisting 19 of 35 makes as it makes further improvement with its chemistry.

Gilas takes on the United States’ Proselect Overtake squad tomorrow.

Scores:

Philippines (92) – Castro 22, Hontiveros 21, Abueva 11, Thoss 11, Taulava 10, David 5, Rosario 3, Norwood 3, Pingris 2, Ramos 2, Tautuaa 2, Ganuelas 0.

Wellington Saints (88) – Davis 31, Ruscoe 17, Devendorf 14, Turner 10, Ekanasio 5, Newton 5, Adams 4, Mills 2, Bloxham 0.

Quarterscores: 25-25, 32-42, 52-59, 78-78, 92-88.

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