Gilas Pilipinas gets pounded by Australia Boomers in FIBA World qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines - Sans Ben Simmons and other Australian NBA players, the Boomers still outscored Gilas Pilipinas, 84-68 in the FIBA Asian Qualifiers of the 2019 World Cup on Thursday, February 22, 2018 at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne Australia.

Exhausted Andray Blatche Gilas Pilipinas
Exhausted Andray Blatche walked back to the bench after Gilas Pilipinas suffered its 1st loss of the tournament against world ranked no.10 Team Australia. Photo Credit: Inquirer

Philippines’ land-down-under campaign didn’t start as planned. Although the nationals got the possession after the tip off, they were welcomed by massive defensive stops and were pinned down 5-0 by Australia. Gilas however, immediately bounced back and equalized the score in less than a minute.

Team Pilipinas snatched the lead 12-11 at the 4-minute mark courtesy of naturalized player and NBA veteran Andray Blatche.

Gilas intensified its defense in the latter part of the opening quarter that forced the Boomers to take their shots from the outside. With Philippines’ glue-tight defense, Coach Chot Reyes and his boys managed to even the digits, 19-all after the first 10 minutes of the game.

Despite Jayson Castro and Jio Jalalon’s absence due to injuries, the team’s backup guards, Kevin Alas and Calvin Abueva contributed some valuable figures as they started the 2nd period to break the deadlock.

Australia’s Head Coach, Andrej Lemanis, saw that his team was having hard time in matching their opponents’ speed in spite of their height advantage, promptly called a timeout to adjust their game plan and cut Philippines’ 5-point lead.

Just as Gilas had its rhythm, point guard Kiefer Ravena fall awkwardly on the floor after successfully dishing a dime to June Mar Fajardo. Ravena, held onto his ankle and was brought back to the bench for further evaluation.

The Boomers took back the lead, 31-30 with over 3 minutes left in the half. Gilas showed numerous lockdowns on the Australians but the Aussies got so lucky in 2nd chance points and the main reason of their comeback.

Australia finished the 1st half strong with a 5-point, 37-32 lead entering to the 3rd quarter. The margin could’ve been slimmer if Gilas just made most of its free throws if not all of them. Philippines missed 6 out of its 7 foul shots in the 2nd quarter alone.

The Australians surprised the Filipinos at the beginning of the third and posted its biggest lead of 8 points. On the other hand, Gilas Pilipinas’ RR Pogoy and Kiefer Ravena countered with a 5-0 run to lower the margin to just 3.

Just as Philippines had regained its momentum, Australia eventually got hot from the three point territory and imposed another huge advantage plus the misfiring Andray Blatche to add to Gilas’ concerns. Blatche looked exhausted and was unable to run the floor and get rebounds. Coach Reyes decided to pull him out and give him a breather.

Australia’s own naturalized player, Kevin Lisch and Angus Brandt kept on pounding the the rim as they sensed that Andray Blatche can no longer jump and Philippines lacked support in the defensive end. Australia dominated the penultimate quarter with 63-49 advantage.

Matthew Wright led Philippines in an attempt to turn the tides in its favor. June Mar Fajardo, who was in foul trouble aided Wright offensively and defensively to fill in Andray Blatche’s role in the middle.

Coach Chot Reyes seemed to wave the white flag too early as he sent the newcomer Abu Tratter with 3 more minutes left in the game clock. Tratter fired a mid jumper as soon as he touched the ball and made it.

WATCH: Australia vs Philippines | FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers (video courtesy of TV5)

Philippines fought so hard but fell short and handed the 84-68 victory to Australia to top their bracket with 3 wins and no loss while. Team Pilipinas on the other hand, landed in the 2nd spot with 2 wins and 1 loss.

Gilas Pilipinas will fly back to Manila to face team Japan with a chance to redeem itself after the tough debacle on Sunday, February 25 at the MOA Arena at 7 pm.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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