Gilas Pilipinas falls to Iceland, comes out winless in first tourney

Jane Bracher
Gilas Pilipinas falls to Iceland, comes out winless in first tourney
The Philippines, still grappling with its new system and probing for chemistry in just 3 weeks together, also dropped games to the Netherlands and host Estonia

MANILA, Philippines – Three straight defeats.

Gilas Pilipinas emerged winless from its first forray into organized competition since its formation a few weeks ago as it fell 86-76 to Iceland in the 2015 Toyota Four Nations Cup on Saturday, August 22 in Tallinn, Estonia.

The Philippines, still grappling with its new system and probing for chemistry in just 3 weeks together, also dropped games to the Netherlands and host Estonia.

The Tab Baldwin-coached crew came closest to victory against Iceland as Jayson Castro pushed the ball and scored off the glass to cut the once 10-point deficit to 78-73 with 1:30 left to play. But a triple from their foes in the ensuing play squashed momentum, and hope, for good.

Gilas showed more marked improvement in their third outing as veteran gunner Dondon Hontiveros gave the Filipinos the lead with a three-pointer, 47-45, at the 7:06 mark of the third amid a blistering run.

The Philippines trailed by 28-43 before uncorking a 10-0 run to end the first half behind by just 5.

After getting shut down the first two games, guard Terrence Romeo, 23, looked more comfortable this time around with 15 points in the first half.

Gilas carried that momentum well into the third and blitzed Iceland with a 23-2 blast capped by a baseline jumper from naturalized Filipino and birthday celebrant Andray Blatche to take a 51-45 lead midway in that frame.

Iceland, however, recovered right away and regained the edge, 55-54, on a fastbreak with 1:36 remaining in the third and kept Gilas at bay the rest of the way, building a double-digit lead in the fourth.

Gilas’ defense proved sporadic as they clamped down in some stretches and lost control in others.

The team is set to head home after the week-long camp and will arrive Monday, August 24. They now eye tough competition in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan, which is slated for August 29 to September 6. – Rappler.com

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