Gilas stands ground vs taller Aussies, still falls short
Nelson Beltran ( - February 22, 2018 - 7:14pm

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas gave Australia a fit in the first 15 minutes of the game before hitting the wall and subsequently dropping a 68-84 loss to the home team in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne Thursday.

The Nationals saw the end of their unbeaten run in FIBAWC Group B play against the Boomers, who lived up to their high world ranking, proving to be deadly with their outside shooting, transition plays and efficient defense.

Gilas (2-1), however, just fell behind Australia (3-0) and remained ahead of Japan and Chinese Taipei in their group where the Top Three advance to the next round. The Japanese and the Taiwanese were playing in Tokyo as of posting time.

Coach Chot Reyes and his troops hope to recover right away as they take on the Japanese at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Sunday.

The Aussies, meanwhile, play a second straight home game against the Taiwanese on Sunday.

Cameeron Gliddon top-scored with 16 points, including four triples, Mitchell Creek came up with a double-double game with 12 points and 11 rebounds while Angus Brandt and Kevin John Lisch contributed double-digit outputs with 13 and 12 markers, respectively, for the winning team.

June Mar Fajardo, meanwhile, was the lone Gilas player to finish in double figures with 15 points, holding his own against the taller Brandt.

Nonetheless, the Nationals made a proud stand, staying right behind the Aussies through the first 27 minutes of the ball game to the delight of a big Filipino crowd inside the Melbourne playing arena.

The game could have been closer if not for Gilas’ atrocious 7-of-19 free throws compared to Australia’s 25-of-32.

Reyes stuck with the positives, saying: “The good thing about this game is now we know that we can take them.”

Gilas plays host versus Team Australia in the third window of the qualifiers in July.

The Boomers took some time to shake off the Filipinos, finally getting some breathing room only at 62-48 on a crucial 8-0 tear where they were awarded seven charities, making five.

For the record, Australia was a dominant force against Japan and Chinese Taipei, walloping the two East Asian teams by a whopping average margin of 31 points.

Earlier, the Nationals got the Pinoy crowd on frenzy on an 11-6 roll to start the second quarter, thus, taking the lead at 30-25.

But somehow, their momentum was stopped as Kevin Ravena twisted his left ankle and was helped to their bench to have his foot re-taped.

The Boomers quickly pounced on the situation, unleashing a 10-0 attack to grab the lead which they held on to the finish.

Andray Blatche struggled with a 3-of-11 clip to finish with eight points on top of seven rebounds.

The scores:

Australia 84 – Gliddon 16, Brandt 13, Creek 12, Lisch 12, Kay 7, Hodgson 6, Kickertt 5, Wagstaff 4, Norton 4, Sobey 2, Cadee 2, McCarron 1.

Philippines 68 – Fajardo 15, Wright 9, Blatche 8, Pogoy 8, Norwood 7, Abueva 5, Ravena 6, Alas 6, Aguilar 2, Tratter 2, Cruz 0, Malicsi 0.

Quarterscores: 19-19, 37-32, 63-49, 84-68

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