The Gilas Pilipinas got blitzed in the second half en route to suffering a crushing 67-94 loss at the hands of the Dominican Republic in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia on early Friday morning.
The loss ended the Gilas’ hopes of making it to the Tokyo Olympics. The team will now shift their focus to the main tournament of the FIBA Asia Cup, which tips off next month in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Filipinos played well in the first half and even led by as much as eight. The second half, though, was a different story as the Dominican Republic—which is the no tightened their defense and exploded on offense, uncorking a devastating 24-2 run that bridged the third and fourth periods that put the game out of reach.
Much was expected of this young Gilas squad, which a day ago, pushed the no. 5 ranked team in the world—Serbia—to the hilt before fading in the endgame in a 76-83 loss. However, the Filipino cagers just could not match the physicality that the Dominican Republic brought in the second half, said Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin.
“In the second half, they came out very physical. They came out to make a statement against us and they certainly did. But we didn’t stand up to the pressure,” said Baldwin in the postgame press conference.
“We didn’t execute what we can execute, and what we should execute under pressure. It was a very disappointing second half for us. No excuses. Not much to say about it other than we were outplayed, outcoached, and outgunned,” he added.
Gilas had momentum on their side in the first half as they led, 33-25, after a dunk by William Navarro with 5:31 left in the second period. However, veteran guard Victor Liz pulled the Dominican Republic to within a deuce, 39-41, with a three-pointer with a second left before halftime.
The game stayed close as the Gilas was down by just two, 51-53, when the Dominican Republic made their move, unleashing a 12-0 run to bring a 65-51 lead to the final stanza. Ange Kouame momentarily stopped the bleeding with a basket at the start of the fourth but the Dominican Republic kept on coming and scored 12 unanswered points capped off by another triple by Liz that gave them a commanding 77-53 lead with 6:25 remaining in the game.
Jordan Heading led the Gilas with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Kouame added 10 points and six rebounds. The Gilas, though, did not help themselves by committing 23 turnovers.
Liz led the Dominican Republic with 23 points while Gelvin Solano added 21 markers. Torres Cuevas also got in on the scoring act, adding 20 markers. (JNP)