Filipino crowd pumps up Gilas in Hong Kong

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Filipino crowd pumps up Gilas in Hong Kong
Gilas Pilipinas applauding the Filipino crowd in Hong Kong

MANILA, Philippines -- The Filipino crowd in Hong Kong was a big boost for Gilas Pilipinas as they defeated the hometown team on Thursday night, Philippine team head coach Tim Cone said.

Gilas steamrolled Hong Kong, 94-64, in the Nationals’ first game of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Despite playing in Hong Kong, there was a big Philippine crowd.

And, up huge in the fourth quarter, there were chants of “Uwian na! (Let’s go home!)"

After the game, Cone told reporters that having the crowd even in hostile territories is a “big advantage” that Gilas has over other teams.

“No matter where we play there’s always a crowd that’s gonna be there behind us and cheering,” the coach said.

“We know that they have to spend their hard-earned money to watch the game and so we truly appreciate them there. I think they were the reason why we came out there in the second half, made a couple of nice plays,” he added.

Leading by just four, 41-37, at the half, Gilas started to heat up in the third quarter as they took a massive 71-46 lead heading into the final quarter.

As the shots came pouring in, the Philippine crowd would not stop cheering.

This then resulted in some big plays, including a reverse alley-oop finish by big man Kai Sotto, big 3-pointers and a block by Scottie Thompson.

“They really got cheering hard and it kinda lifted our spirits and got some momentum and that kind of keyed our runaway there in the third quarter,” Cone said.

Kevin Quiambao, who had nine points in the fourth quarter to finish with 15 markers, expressed his appreciation to the fans for the support.

“Super appreciated they go out here to support us. Good thing we got the win for them, the OFWs that work here.”

It was a beautiful display of basketball for Gilas as the whole team assisted on 33 of their 37 made field goals.

While they made just nine of their 25 3-pointers, they were able to make 28-of-54 shots from inside the arc.

The Nationals will try to build on the momentum of their first win as they face Chinese Taipei on Sunday, February 25, at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

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