Yeng Guiao
Gilas drops rematch with 36ers
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - August 26, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Adelaide 36ers burst Gilas Pilipinas’ bubble in their final tuneup before the FIBA World Cup, handing the Nationals an 85-75 beating last night at the Meralco Gym.

Daniel Johnson (16), Eric Griffin (15), Jack McVeigh (12), Brendan Teys (10) and Deshon Taylor (10)  provided the offensive spark as the visiting 36ers foiled the Philippines’ bid to score a morale-booster prior to its departure for the Aug. 31-Sept. 15  worlds in China.

The Australian side also avenged its 83-92 setback in the opener of their two-game series, spoiling what Gilas had hoped as a triumphant return for Kiefer Ravena from his 18-month Fiba suspension.

Gilas dug a big hole for itself as a scoreless spell in the opening canto allowed Adelaide to rip the game apart and lead by as many as 21 markers.

The resilient Pinoys mounted a furious rally in the fourth and pulled to within 73-80 with still 1:29 left, before Johnson and Daniel Dillon put the game beyond Phl’s reach with insurance free throws and a booming triple, respectively.

Andray Blatche led Gilas with 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Ravena netted 11 markers in his first official game after a long layoff.

Adelaide put Gilas on the backfoot halfway through the first, unleashing a telling 17-0 blast off transition baskets and three-pointers to seize a 26-11 upper hand. Blatche stopped the Phl bleeding in that horrendous four-minute spell but Harry Froling answered from down town to make it a 29-13 contest after 10 minutes.

Ravena, whose long Fiba suspension ended Saturday night, opened the second with seven straight markers as Gilas cut the Adelaide lead to nine at 29-20.

But skipper Johnson hit two big triples in a 15-10 counter to maintain a double-digit spread for the visitors, 44-30, going to the halftime break.  

Meanwhile, Gilas coach Yeng Guiao tasked the Filipino cagers to put in extra effort especially on the defensive end as they try to counteract the advantage their opponents’ big men enjoy in terms of quickness in next week’s World Cup.

“Our bigs are not that quick. We got to find a way to keep up with the bigs who are quick and can run the floor,” said the Phl mentor.

This disadvantage was felt in Gilas’ tune-up with the visiting Adelaide 36ers, where June Mar Fajardo struggled to keep in step with the agile bigs of the Australian club.

“June Mar has to extend out to cover the three-point shooting big man. If the big fakes and drives, June Mar needs to recover fast,” Guiao said.


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