FIBA ASIA 2015: Gilas Pilipinas defeats Lebanon – Sets Semifinal clash with Japan!
By Jojo Fugaban
Gilas Pilipinas 3.0 stretches its winning streak to six by demolishing Lebanon in its Quarterfinals match, 82 -70, and more importantly pushing its way to the Semifinals round against Japan. The win also puts us closer to our dream of going back to the Olympic stage where we last qualified in 1972.
Jayson Castro started hot with 12 points to lead the Gilas players ending the first quarter ahead by 5 points, 20 – 15. Despite being scoreless on the second quarter, as he was given the needed rest, he came surging hot once more coming into the third period clinching another 10 out the team’s output of 20 points. Andray Blatche gave the needed help on scoring and rebounding finishing 24 points and 17 rebounds while Jayson Castro (known as Jayson William in FIBA) finished with 25 points and an impressive 50% in 3-point range.
During the first half, Gilas failed to pull away due to early team penalty on fouls for both quarters. The team reached its fourth team foul with 6:21 remaining on the second quarter, way too early of putting the opposing team on the line ending the first half with Gilas only ahead by five points, 37 to 32.
The team’s highest lead is 12 points (46 – 34) in the 3rd quarter but was chopped down to 5 points with 2:12 minutes remaining. A scare of injury worried the Gilas squad as Andray was fouled hard going into the basket; was evidently in pain on his right shoulder and needed to be pulled out. With that, Ranidel took over the freethrow shots for him. Before the quarter ends, Blatche came back in, looking great.
Fourth quarter, Lebanon’s defensive strategy came into play where they forced Gilas into turnovers and close the gap at 6:50-minute mark of the game, 60 – 57. Andray was fouled on the next possession and went to the freethrow line for 2 shots; surprisingly, he is being booed by the crowd mostly comprised of Chinese fans.
With the sudden turn of events, where fans in attendance starts to cheer for the Lebanese side, made the match up more exciting. Andray Blatche and the gang put on a show to silence the crowd with their choking defensive pressures and puts the team to a comfortable lead, 74 – 62 with 2:18 remaining in the final canto.
Lebanon’s naturalized player, Youngblood, is one who suffered the most in terms of Gila’s defense where he was limited to just 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists in 5-of-15 shooting, 6 of those came at the last stretch where Gilas is already the evident winner of the clash. Mohammad Ali Haidar led Lebanon with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Terrence Romeo and Marc Pingris gave their share of efforts with 10 and 8 points, respectively. While Calvin Abueva, where his statistics are not usually seen on papers, is just simply all around the court going for those defensive hustles and plays finishing with 7 points and 5 rebounds.
With the win, Philippines will now face Japan on one of the two semi-final matchups tomorrow, a team they already defeated in the second round. Japan made it to the Semi-finals by defeating Qatar, 81 – 67. Though Gilas had the first blood, Japan will surely do everything that it can to avenge their loss and finally end the drought in the FIBA Asia competitions where they last qualified in the Semi-finals in 1997. The match up will start at 9:30 PM, October 2 after the China vs Iran face off at 7:30 PM.
What can you say about Gilas’ chances on defeating Japan on their second encounter and clinching the Championship? Leave a comment below.
Philippines (82): Castro 25, Blatche 24, Romeo 10, Pingris 8, Abueva 7, Norwood 5, De Ocampo 3, Ganuelas 0, Thoss 0, Hontiveros 0, Intal 0, Taulava 0.
Lebanon (70): Haidar 18, Bawji 17, Youngblood 12, Arakji 8, Abd El Nour 8, Saoud 7, Kheres 0, Ibrahim 0, Souaid 0, Akl 0, Tabet 0, El Ayoubi 0.
Quarter scores: 20-16, 37-32, 57-49, 82-70.