Gilas Pilipinas outclasses USA; Iran wins gold in Jones Cup 2015

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas beat Team USA which is composed of former college stars and 3 ex-PBA imports, 78-74 on Saturday, September 5, 2015 at Xinchuang Gymnasium in Taipei.

Calvin Abueva Gilas Pilipinas
Calvin "The Beast" Abueva helps injury plagued Gilas Pilipinas win its penultimate game versus USA | Photo Credit:
Minutes before Gilas Pilipinas and Team USA’s opening tip-off, Hammed Haddadi and the rest of Iran Men’s National Basketball team, coped the 2015 William Jones Cup title by beating Spartak Russia 68-45 that left Coach Tab Baldwin and the rest of the Pinoy Ballers to aim for the silver medal instead.

Gilas Pilipinas started its penultimate game without a legitimate point guard against the dangerous team USA led by ex-PBA import Marquin Chandler. Coach Baldwin decided to rest his three top guards: Jimmy Alapag, Jason Castro-William and Terrence Romeo who are all nursing various but mild injuries. The American-Kiwi mentor had to tweak his line-up a little bit by assigning 6’7” Gabe Norwood to be the court general for their last 2 games.

Calvin Abueva joined Norwood in the backcourt who surprised the Americans with 2 consecutive steals and fastbreak layups converted. Coach Tab commended “The Beast” for his hard work and hustle on the floor and pointed out the 6’2” guard’s flaws also like slowness in decision making on the floor and proneness to committing unnecessary and useless fouls just to name a few.

The Filipinos were trailing the Americans all throughout the first quarter until Asi Taulava, the oldest athlete in the tournament checked in off the bench and provided spark and swag for the Nationals that resulted to a 2-point, 13-15 lead after the opening period.

Gilas Boys felt relaxed and confident playing team USA compared to their previous matches especially against New Zealand that went into overtime.

Ex-Purefoods Chunkee Giants reinforcement Marquin Chandler became team USA’s one-man wrecking crew who had 15 points early in the 2nd quarter.

Coach Baldwin switched into a small lineup in the 2nd quarter with Sonny Thoss and Ranidel de Ocampo in the frontcourt against another ex-PBA reinforcement Jamil Watkins who stands 7’0” and 7’3” tower Cliff Closs. Surprisingly, the blue boys got a double-digit advantage after the 1st half 40-30 courtesy of Calvin Abueva and another veteran, Dondon Hontiveros.

It was earlier reported that naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche was set to rejoin the Gilas Squad today. But Blatche needed more time to join his family in US after his uncle passed away. Andray will be joining the team on Monday as they play their final tune-up games in the inaugural MVP 4-Nation Cup in Manila next weekend.

Along with Andray Blatche’s return, Jordan Clarkson was given a greenlight by the LA Lakers to play for Gilas Pilipinas in FIBA Asia Championships on September 23 – October 3. But, the Filipino-American guard needs to be back by September 28 to join Lakers’ training camp which means that he will only be able to play for the 1st round of the Asian qualifiers.

Calvin Abueva continued to wow the crowd with his usual rebounding prowess against the tall Americans and almost flawless jump shots that gave Team Pilipinas 51-35 lead with less than 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd.

One of the penultimate quarter’s highlights came from 6’7” Rookie Moala Tautuaa with a sick tomahawk dunk in the middle, posterizing USA’s 7’3” Cliff Closs.

Despite of Team USA’s scoring run headed by ex-Globalport Batang Pier Calvin Warner, Gilas Pilipinas retained their 60-47 lead entering to the final canto of the ball game.

Gilas boys got sloppy in defense in the 4th quarter that gave way for team USA to inch the margin to just 8 from as high as 17 points that prompted Coach Tab Baldwin to send “The Beast” back to the floor to give Philippines hustle on defense.

The Philippines gave USA another window of opportunity to catch-up by giving up its 5th team foul. Marquin Chandler and Calvin Warner both made a living in the foul line. Chandler sank a cold-blooded trey in the middle to cut the lead to just 4, 70-66. With this, Coach Baldwin called a ceasefire to talk things over with under 40 seconds remaining in the game clock.

New Zealand game hero, Dondon Hontiveros completed his charity shots to give Gilas a 2-possession 76-71 lead with 2.35 seconds remaining.

Sonny Thoss inadvertently fouled Calvin Warner during the inbound. But Warner split his fouls shots and officially handed the W to Gilas Pilipinas.

The Philippines improved its record to 5-2 next to Iran and has one more game remaining against Taiwan Team B and has a great chance to win silver if Taiwan A losses to any of its last 2 games against New Zealand and South Korea.

standings Jones Cup 2015

- JoeyBoyCapos/TheSummitExpress

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