MVP Cup: Gilas Pilipinas escapes tough New Zealand; Romeo lifts team

    MANILA, Philippines – Exactly a week after Gilas Pilipinas faced New Zealand in the 2015 William Jones Cup, the Kiwis tried to atone their loss against our Nationals with ex-PBA import Jameel Watkins on their side as their reinforcement. But it was a dejavu overall as Gilas Pilipinas conquered a double-digit deficit in the final quarter led by newcomers Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva and sealed the win 84-81 on Saturday, September 12, 2015 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

    Terrence Romeo
    Terrence Romeo waxes hot in the fourth quarter to help Gilas Pilipinas beat New Zealand | Photo: Inquirer.net

    Andray Blatche denied Brian Davis’ first basket attempt but committed an early personal foul on the latter’s 2nd try. Davis split his charities however.

    Game hero Dondon Hontiveros never ran out of 3-point bullets and posted Gilas’ first points of the game on board and immediately followed by another game hero Asi Taulava’s bank shot.

    New Zealand came alive courtesy of Playing Coach Kevin Braswell and Ray Turner that prompted Coach Tab Baldwin to call a time out to talk things over. The Kiwis lead 13-10.

    Shootout erupted between Dondon Hontiveros and Brian Davis late in the opening period while Andray Blatche remained scoreless and still catching up his breath not until the 2:55 mark after dropping an easy basket over Jameel Watkins.

    Crowd went crazy after Coach Baldwin sent Terrence Romeo in. Romeo wasn’t able to play against the Kiwis in the Jones Cup due to his ankle injury. Although, Romeo’s 1st attempt from downtown was all air but got back up on his feet and made a Ray Turner-contested fast break layup.

    Kevin Braswell ended the opening period with a right side banked shot over the outstretched arms of Gilas wing man Gabe Norwood. 23-20 New Zealand.

    Braswell, who is 36 years old, stayed on the floor at the start of the 2nd quarter. The Derrick Fisher look alike New Zealander didn’t play against Gilas when the two met in Taipei and would really love to test and play against Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva.

    Just like their first meeting, New Zealand led in the early phase of the game. With 6 more minutes remaining in the 1st half, the Saints had an 8-point, 30-22 lead.

    Blatche finally connected from the rainbow arc after at least 4 tries that brought his confidence back. JC Intal also attempted a trey at the right corner but gout fouled. Intal made 3 out of 3 from the foul line and cut the lead to just 2.

    Blatche implemented a lock-tight defense on Jameel Watkins underneath the basket, got the defensive board and located Ranidel de Ocampo from the middle for the 1st deadlock of the game after 0-all.

    Same old problems. In the entire Jones Cup, Gilas got into early foul trouble that made their opponents shot from the stripe many times. Kevin Braswell and Brian Davis took advantage of Gilas’ weakness by attacking the rim. Lucky them, free throws were sinking in and brought the 8-point lead back to their side.

    Terrence Romeo snatch a ball from Kevin Braswell with 2.4 seconds remaining in the half and got fouled to stop the run. Jason Castro-William took the last shot but missed. New Zealand headed to the dugout with 42-38 lead over Gilas.

    Andray Blatche got more aggressive offensively at the start of the 3rd to close the gap to just 1 after 5 quick points. Marc Pingris’ put back brought the lead back to the Nationals. Just as Blatche got his offensive rhythm, he committed 2 consecutive fouls and Gilas’ 4th team fouls with over 6 minutes remaining in the quarter.

    Justin Edwards’ dunk got their double-digit lead back, 58-47. Gilas continued to miss in all angles of the floor. It was almost a dejavu for Coach Baldwin and his boys where New Zealand’s lead ballooned in the 3rd quarter when they met 7 days ago.

    Playing Coach Kevin Braswell closed the 3rd chapter of the game with a buzzer beater layup for an 11-point, 65-54 lead.

    Braswell continued to attack the rim to add more damage to team Pilipinas. Asi Taulava checked back in to add more muscle in the front court and contain the inside offensive plays of the Saints.

    Unlike the last meeting, Gilas’ outside shots were missing their marks and the reason why Coach Baldwin and his squad were still rallying behind New Zealand in the final period.

    Gilas newcomers Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo initiated the scoring run to cut the deficit to just 3 from as high of 13 points with 5 more minutes remaining in the game clock.

    Ranidel de Ocampo saw the cutting Andray Blatche for an easy slam. Romeo fouled Braswell for a sure 2-pointer from the line.

    Terrence Romeo who was ice cold in the first half went hot in the fourth. The 5’9” guard made couple of back-to-back treys for the lead, 78-76 with 2:49 remaining on the clock. Romeo exerted 12 of his 16 points in the final quarter.

    Just as the Gilas boys grabbed the lead, Richie Edwards drained a cold-blooded 3-pointer for a 1-point Kiwi advantage. Calvin Abueva retaliated with a floater and regained the lead.

    Romeo-Castro connection off the fast break gave Philippines a scary lead. Marc Pingris fouled Ray Turner with 40 seconds remaining but the Kiwi missed both of his foul shots and gave Gilas a room to melt the clock.

    Same with Ray Turner, Terrence Romeo got fouled and got blanked from the foul line. Terrence was once again tested on line after getting fouled by Braswell and luckily both free throws went in when they needed the most.

    Gilas escaped with a 3-point, 84-81 lead and beat New Zealand twice in a week time.

    Gilas Pilipinas topped all teams after 2 days with 2-0 Win-Loss record and most likely win the inaugural MVP Cup if they win tomorrow against Chinese Taipei who struggled and lost yesterday against New Zealand and earlier versus Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters. - JoeyBoyCapos/TheSummitExpress

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