Gilas players (blue) battle Kazakhs (white) for the rebound in the first game of Group D during the 2018 Asian Games yesterday in Jakarta.
AFP
Underwhelming Gilas scores overwhelming win over Kazakhs
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - August 17, 2018 - 12:00am

Hastily formed, mentally tough

JAKARTA – Cramming in buildup and assembled in haste with its marquee recruit coming in late, the Philippine team destroyed hapless Kazakhstan, 96-59, feeding on a mental toughness it would need for the bigger battles ahead in the 18th Asian Games men’s basketball competition at the GBK Basketball Hall here yesterday.

Stanley Pringle came out with a sterling performance in his debut as a national player while Christian Standhardinger, James Yap, Paul Lee and Chris Tiu had their solid showings in their return to the national squad, leading the Phl 5 to a smashing first outing in the Jakarta meet.

Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, Poy Erram, Beau Belga, Maverick Ahanmisi and even 45-year-old reserve center Asi Taulava put in their share as the Nationals carved out the important victory that all but assured them of a spot in the knockout round (Final Eight).

Fil-Am NBA player Jordan Clarkson made it to the venue towards the end of the third quarter, and witnessed a smashing fourth-quarter run the Nationals dished out to highlight their 37-point thumping of the Kazakhs.

Clarkson plays his first game in a national uniform as Team Phl seeks the top spot in Group D in their game against China Tuesday.

A 2-0 showing in Group D would give them an easy matchup in the Final Eight, but a 1-1 record could well pit them against old dangerous rival South Korea.

More than the team’s fluid offense, national coach Yeng Guiao took notice of his wards’ defense.

“The coaching staff did a great job with the scouting report and the team’s preparation. We were able to disrupt their offense, and we were able to challenge their shots,” said Guiao, backed here by deputies Caloy Garcia, Ryan Gregorio and Ford Arao, among others.

“The guys were mentally prepared. They’re mentally tough. We had a very short time to prepare for this tournament, but everything just fell into place,” Guiao also said.

Despite a mere 10-day preparation, the Nationals showed a semblance of chemistry and outplayed the Kazakh team that struggled badly minus injured main men Anton Ponomarev and Anatoliy Kolesnikov.

Pringle top scored with 18 points while Standhardinger, Yap, Lee and Tiu added 15, 12, 10 and nine, respectively, for the Nationals who started the game with a quick 16-5 binge and dominated with their hardnosed defense and a remarkable 45-percent shooting marked by 12-of-39 three-pointers.

Pringle, Norwood, Yap and Tiu provided the outside bombs early on before Lee found his range in the fourth quarter, stringing up three straight treys after missing all his first five attempts from the arc.

Towards the end, Taulava also drained a trey to ignite a loud roar from the Filipino crowd, including PBA commissioner Willie Marcial and the members of the PBA board. A curious spectator in the match was Chinese icon Yao Ming, now an official of the Chinese cage federation.

Early hustle plays and individual defensive stops fueled the strong start by starters Pringle, Norwood, Belga, Erram and Ahanmisi.

The Filipinos took a total of 16 steals, and they massacred the Kazakhs, 29-4, on points off turnovers.

They had 11 steals in the first half where they led, 41-20.

After a miserable 4-of-23 clip in the first half, the Kazakhs finally dropped some shots in the third period but couldn’t get closer than 15.

And as Lee joined Team Phl’s three-point shooting spree, the Nationals zoomed to a 29-point lead at 81-52 and took the fight out of the Kazakhs, thrice semifinalists in the last four Asiad editions.

18TH ASIAN GAMES BASKETBALL GILAS PILIPINAS
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