'Lefty Kobe' torments Gilas Pilipinas

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas’ 2023 Asian Games men’s basketball preliminary stage ended in a 87-62 loss after receiving a severe beating from PBA import and naturalized Jordanian Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on Saturday, September 30 in Hangzhou, China.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gave Gilas Pilipinas its very first loss in the 2023 Asian Games
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gave Gilas Pilipinas its very first loss in the 2023 Asian Games. Photo Credit: One Sports/Philippine Olympic Committee (POC)

As soon as the game clock ticked, basketball fans immediately knew that Philippines vs. Jordan was indeed a great game to watch. Both teams needed at least 3 minutes to log the first points of the game.

All eyes were set on the Justin Brownlee-Rondae Hollis-Jefferson showdown. The naturalized Filipino, however, stepped on the gas pedal early to boost up his teammates' confidence and set the rhythm.

Along with Brownlee was June Mar Fajardo who really was a monster and unguardable underneath the basket.

The Jordanians retaliated late in the opener and snatched the lead from the Philippines right at the end of the first quarter buzzer, 16-13.

Having a sloppy defense, Gilas Pilipinas found themselves drowning little by little in the second period as Jordan kept on pounding them from all angles.

Gilas has obviously placed a target on Hollis-Jefferson’s back. But surprisingly, it was a great ball distribution and balanced scoring for the Jordanians which resulted in a double-digit lead with plenty of time left in the half.

Not only was Jordan superb offensively, its defense was also exceptional as it collared Brownlee and Fajardo who were Philippines’ go-to-scorers in the game.

The nationals had no answer to the Jordanians’ 42-29 lead at the half and needed a big time trailing come the third quarter.

Gilas’ performance improved in the third quarter. The Filipinos became more active in inside scoring and rebounding to cut the lead slowly but surely.

Scottie Thompson provided the much-needed scoring support for Gilas Pilipinas while Brownlee struggled offensively.

Gilas got its break late in the third as Brownlee started to sizzle and Hollis-Jefferson was called for a technical foul plus his 4 personal fouls.

Jordan was really a no pushover team. Everytime Philippines got close, the Jordanians made a run of their own to keep the favor on their side.

The penultimate quarter was way better for Philippines, however, Jordan was still up, 59-52 heading to the final quarter.

The end-of-the-quarter powwow seemed ineffective for the Filipinos as the Jordanians re-grouped and regained their composure to put their double-figure lead back at the dawn of the final canto.

Time was not on the Philippines’ side as Jordan’s margin went up by 20 points. Hollis-Jefferson was really a problem for Coach Cone and the rest of the team especially in the fourth quarter.

Coach Cone waved the white flag as he pulled out Brownlee in the dying minutes of the game.

Jordan remained unscathed in the elimination round after dismantling Philippines, 87-62 while Gilas finished the first round with 2-1 record and second place in its group.

Despite this debacle, the Philippines is still on track to finish the tournament strong. However, it needs to take the harder path as it faces Qatar on Monday, October 2 in a must-win game to secure quarterfinals spot.

— Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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