Gilas Pilipinas 75 – Jordan 70
In their final game of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, Gilas Pilipinas made sure to leave fans with an encouraging sign as they beat Jordan to win seventh in the continental championship.
Down five, 70-65 with under two minutes to play, Terrence Romeo powered a 10-0 run for the nationals to steal the game. Romeo first hit a three which cut the deficit down to one. In the next possession after Gilas secured a stop, Romeo dished to Japeth Aguilar for a lay-up which gave the squad a 71-70 lead.
Romeo then bothered Mahmoud Abdeen in the inbounds play, forcing a turnover. It led to free throws for Matthew Wright before Roger Pogoy sealed the win with a steal and bucket.
Though they had their lapses on defense, the Philippines was the more fluid offensive team, assisting 21 of 24 field goal makes. Romeo and Wright led the team with 13 points each, while Aguilar chipped in 8 points and seven rebounds.
The seventh-place finish of Gilas in the tournament is a positive sign heading to the World Cup qualifiers in November, as seven teams from the Asia-Pacific shall qualify to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
If the tournament is a gauge, then Gilas is on the right track. They are already among the top teams in the region, and they will have more time to prepare for the more important goal of returning to the World Cup.
This Gilas team will return to Manila packing more experience in high-level basketball. With the Southeast Asian Games also on-going, the cadet-laden Gilas squad themselves will come back as better basketball players.
It may not be the finish some wanted for Gilas at the FIBA Asia Cup, but the program has always dreamed big. Why limit the goal to being the best in Asia? Gilas wants to shoot for the worlds, where the best of best slug it out.
Photos from FIBA.com