Nationals subdue mustangs

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Nationals subdue mustangs
Gilas center Kai Sotto takes on his Taiwan Mustangs’ defender in this bit of action in their tuneup match last night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.
Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — Gilas Pilipinas gave supporters a nice going-away gift in the form of an entertaining 74-64 dispatching of the Taiwan Mustangs last night at the PhilSports Arena.

Hitting the court a day before making their Olympic drive in Europe, the Nationals made the big plays and did what was needed to prevail over the visitors to the delight of over 5,000 supporters in the open friendly match.

Dwight Ramos rifled in 19 points spiked by a near-perfect 4-of-5 marksmanship from beyond the arc as he took the offensive cudgels in Gilas’ wire-to-wire victory.

Justin Brownlee served more as a facilitator, issuing 15 assists to complement his 15-point, five-rebound production in his 34-minute duty.

Coach Tim Cone’s twin towers played big with Kai Sotto shooting nine with eight boards and June Mar Fajardo scoring eight plus four rebounds and four steals as they took turns against the Mustangs’ 7-foot-5 giant Sam Deguara (10-13).

The Nationals blew an early 15-point tear and went into the halftime break with a slim 37-32 lead. But with Ramos as spearhead, Gilas came out firing after restart, 21-12, to wrest back control, 58-44, never relinquishing it the rest of the way.

Gilas hopes to build from this as it flies to Europe today to continue building up for the big task ahead – the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) slated July 2 to 7 in Riga, Latvia.

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