Gilas rips Indonesia, closes in on FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers sweep

·2 min read
Gilas Pilipinas stalwart Justine Baltazar. (Photo: FIBA Basketball)
Gilas Pilipinas stalwart Justine Baltazar. (Photo: FIBA Basketball)

Gilas Pilipinas remained unblemished in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers after repulsing Indonesia, 76-51, Friday evening at the AUF Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles, Pampanga.

The Filipino cagers bucked a sluggish first half and rode on the crest of a third quarter surge, blowing past their Southeast Asian rivals en route to their fifth straight triumph in the tournament, a win away from completing a sweep of the qualifiers.

Still, despite the positive outcome, head coach Tab Baldwin was far from satisfied with the overall performance of his young team, undermining the lack of discipline among the players.

"We looked like what I thought we might look like early in this campaign. We didn't settle down. We tried to push the tempo and think we're not yet ready to be an up-tempo team," Baldwin bared in the post-game press conference.

"We really lacked self-discipline, like the discipline in the culture that we're working hard to establish. Without that, we're pretty ordinary," the multi-titled tactician continued.

Jolted to their senses at halftime, the Nationals entered the second half of the game with a greater sense of composure to burst open the floodgates of scoring. The single digit lead Gilas had built in the first two quarters swelled up in the last two, culminating to their dominant finish over the Indonesians. 

Justine Baltazar and Angelo Kouame carried the cudgels for the Philippines with 11 points apiece. The former also produced nine rebounds to his name.

Dwight Ramos, who spearheaded the team on offense against South Korea on Wednesday, stuffed the stat sheet with a double-double performance of 10 points and 12 boards laced with three steals and an assist.

RJ Abarrientos delivered the goods as well with nine points, two of which came in the final frame of the game that ballooned Gilas' cushion to 25, to go along with six assists and two steals. Meanwhile, Lebron Lopez made quite a splash in his seniors team debut, supplementing eight markers, five rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block.

On the other hand, Indonesia only had one player in twin-digit territory in naturalized player Lester Prosper, who finished with a game-high 22 points.

Gilas Pilipinas will try to keep the momentum rolling when it faces the Koreans once more on Sunday (June 20).

Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.

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