Jones Cup 2015: Gilas Pilipinas shocks New Zealand in a thrilling OT

MANILA, Philippines – The Gilas Pilipinas Men’s National Basketball Team shocked New Zealand Saints with a rare and almost impossible come-from-behind win, 90-86 led by the squad’s “Manong Brigade”: Asi “The Rock” Taulava and Dondon “The Cebuano Hotshot” Hontiveros on Friday, September 4, 2015 at Xinchuang Gymnasium in Taipei.

Dondon Hontiveros and Asi Taulava
Age doesn't matter. Dondon Hontiveros and Asi Taulava lift Gilas versus New Zealand
After bowing down to tall Iranians yesterday, spear-headed by NBA Veteran Hammed Haddadi in a very tight match-up, the Nationals re-grouped and changed their game plan before their 6th game of the tournament versus Wellington Saints of New Zealand.

Coach Tab Baldwin was forced to rest his guards: Gilas 2.0 holdover Jimmy Alapag who re-injured his quadriceps and Jones Cup 2015 heart rob and newcomer Terrence Romeo who suffered a mild ankle sprain on yesterday’s ball game. The American-Kiwi mentor left without any choices but to field in another Gilas 2.0 holdover, Asia’s Best Point Guard Jason Castro-William with more playing time.

The first three quarters were totally hopeless for our National Squad as the Kiwis relentlessly pounding them in all sides of the floor led by Brian Davis who had a monster 30-point game and US NCAA Division 1 shooting guard Eric Devendorf.

Gilas was committing turnovers back and forth and was outrebounded by the taller opponents. For the “nth” time, Philippines was missing the services of Naturalized Filipino Center Andray Blatche who is set to rendezvous with the Nationals tomorrow. However, he will not be available to suit-up for the penultimate game against Team USA.

Sonny Thoss, Marc Pingris and Moala Tautuaa who had a terrific game against Japan last Wednesday were not able to contain the agile big man of New Zealand and the main reason why Gilas were downed by 16 humongous points 55-39.

Late in the 3rd period, another newcomer, energetic Calvin Abueva initiated Gilas comeback with his fearless defensive boards against Brian Davis and the rest of New Zealand’s front liners. Abueva started to drive coast to coast plus couple of and-ones to cut the lead to just 7.

Come 4th quarter, Asi Taulava who had a great rest on the bench for 3 full quarters after banging bodies with 7’2” Haddadi yesterday came alive on the floor and hustled for the boards. Jason Castro had a quiet 22 markers including a left-handed open layup that tied the game 78-all with 19 seconds remaining in the game clock.

The Saints had a chance to win the ball game on their last possession but Marc Pingris showed his glue-tight defense against Jared Turner who widely missed his jumper at the right side.

Dondon Hontiveros and Asi Taulava started the overtime shooting party with the “Cebuano Hotshot” erupted for 3 three-pointers which are all heavily contested. Hontiveros placed the icing on the cake by sinking 2 foul shots completing his tournament best of 21 points.

With the win, the Philippines improved to 4-2 behind league leaders USA and Iran.

Tomorrow at 5pm, Gilas Pilipinas will face the tough Americans with at least 4 players had a stint in PBA as reinforcements led by Marquin Chandler who played alongside with Marc Pingris. Team USA is the lone team so far who gave Iran its only loss. A day after it, the Blue Boys will face Taipei Team B and will be playing with Andray Blatche back in the line-up. - JoeyBoyCapos/TheSummitExpress

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