TAIPEI – Gilas Pilipinas ran to the ground an old US select team, pulling off an almost one-sided 78-74 win to close in on a second-place finish in the 2015 Jones Cup basketball tournament at the Xinchuang Stadium here Saturday night.
Though Iran sealed a successful title run earlier in the day, the Filipinos buckled down to work and humbled the Americans for a fifth win against two losses in the nine-team, one-round-robin competition.
Team Phl, the 2012 Jones Cup champ, takes first runner-up honors with a win over Chinese Taipei B in the final day of the tourney Sunday.
Team Melli, four-time titlist in the last seven years, regained the crown as it walloped Spartak-Primorye, 78-54, for a closing 7-1 win-loss record.
“I think we’re really getting ready for the FIBA Asia Championship, and we have to two more weeks to improve,” said Iran coach Dirk Bauermann.
Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Gabe Norwood alternated at playing the point with Castro, Romeo and Alapag – all nursing slight injuries — taking a rest at the same time. The respite allowed Alapag to fly home for a day to be with his son on his birthday.
Even minus the three natural point guards, Team Phl went almost trouble-free against the Paul Mokeski-coached US team composed mostly of former stars past their prime.
Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss and Moala Tautuaa more than held their own against 7-foot-3 NBA veteran Keith Closs and former PBA imports Jamal Watkins, Marquin Chandler and Calvin Warner and helped Gilas tale control most of the way, enjoying an 18-point spread at one point at 55-37.
With the Americans mounting a rally at the finish, Thoss rattled in three straight clutch baskets to ease out the pressure and cap his finest performance thus far in his Gilas return.
Calvin Abueva, playing a seventh game in seven days, was still a bundle of energy, pacing Gilas with 20 points, eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block against two turnovers in 22 minutes of action.
He stood his ground during his matchup with Warner, the former Globalport reinforcement who together with another former PBA import Chandler (Purefoods) led the Americans with combined numbers of 37 points and 26 rebounds
Thoss wound up with 13 markers and six boards while Gary David also fired 13 points on 3-of-5 three-pointers and added five boards.
“It’s an up-and-down game and we had some objectives we tried to do well. I think we’re okay. We had pretty much success,” said Gilas coach Tab Baldwin.
“We made 40 points in the first half and it’s okay. The other thing was that we wanted to get rid of foul-trouble. In the first three quarters, we did a good job. But in the fourth quarter, we fouled all those moving,” Baldwin also said.
He stressed though that he’s pleased with the result and with the attitude shown by the players even as they dropped out of contention for the title on the win by the Iranians earlier in the day.
“I’m happy to get that result. I’m happy for the players because they’re tired. But everbody here is tired. You can see the Americans. They had no pace,” Baldwin said. (SB)
Philippines 78 – Abueva 20, Thoss 13, David 13, Hontiveros 7, Taulava 7, De Ocampo 7, Intal 5, Tautuaa 4, Rosario 2, Norwood 0, Pingris 0, Ganuelas 0.
US 74 – Chandler 20, Bradford 19, Warner 17, McDonald 8, Closs 6, Watkins 2, Hall 2, Andrade 0, Mirza 0, Waters 0.
Quarterscores: 15-13, 40-30, 60-47, 78-74
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