Nationals trounce hosts Chinese Taipei-Blue in first game of William Jones Cup
The Gilas Pilipinas debuted in style at the 37th William Jones Cup as they turned back the hosts Chinese Taipei-Blue, 77-69, last night at the Xinchuang Gymnasium in New Taipei City, Taiwan.
It was a hard-earned victory for the Filipinos, who were playing without naturalized player Andray Blatche.
The Nationals actually led by as many as 19 points but lost it all in the third, where they got outscored, 23-7, to head to the final frame tied at 54-all.
But the Gilas found their groove once again in the final frame and got the win behind clutch baskets from their lethal backcourt of veteran Jayson Castro and first-time Gilas member Terrence Romeo.
Romeo had five points in the last two minutes of the final period, including a shot-clock beating triple that sparked the late breakaway. He finished the match with 18 markers while another Gilas rookie, Calvin Abueva, added 13 on top of his trademark hustle and energy.
With time winding down, Romeo found a sliver of space on the right wing and launched a triple that saw nothing but net for a 71-65 Gilas lead.
Castro then added a floater, Romeo drove in for an acrobatic lay-in and Castro got an uncontested basket that gave the Gilas a 77-67 lead with under a minute remaining.
The win, carved out in front of a jam-packed Taiwanese crowd that cheered every Gilas blunder, avenged an 84-77 loss in the preliminary round of the Fiba-Asia Championship in Manila in 2012.
That defeat also had the Filipinos losing a formidable lead in the waning minutes.
Making the win doubly sweet was the fact that the Filipinos pulled it off without the help of Blatche, who went back to the United States last Saturday morning to attend the funeral of his uncle.
Next up for the Gilas will be South Korea who they will face today at 5 p.m. /with a report from inquirer.net