Gilas defeats Lebanon to reach FIBA Asia semis

Jane Bracher
Gilas defeats Lebanon to reach FIBA Asia semis
With the win, the Philippines completes the semifinals cast and will clash with second round foe Japan on Friday, October 2

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – No roar from the hostile crowd could shake Gilas Pilipinas and their resolve as they beat down Lebanon in the quarterfinals, 82-70, and advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship on Thursday, October 1 in Changsha, Hunan, China.

(HIGHLIGHTS: Gilas vs Lebanon – 2015 FIBA Asia Quarterfinals)

With the win, the Philippines completed the semifinals cast and will clash with second round foe Japan, while the other semis pairing is between defending champion Iran and host China. Gilas will attempt to defeat Japan a second time and make a return trip to the finals on Friday, October 2 at 9:30 pm.

Jayson Castro uncorked a game-high 25 points on 5-of-10 shooting from long range, along with 3 rebounds, an assist and two steals to keep Gilas alive in the knockout playoffs.

(WATCH: Jayson Castro dances around Lebanon’s defense)

Castro poured 10 markers in the pivotal third period, which saw the Filipinos pull away from a tight 37-32 halftime ballgame and lead by as much as 12 points midway in the third period.

Naturalized big man Andray Blatche was not far behind with 24 markers, 17 rebounds, 3 assists and two blocks. He also shot steadily from the free throw line, going 7-of-9, as he kept Gilas afloat late in the fourth amid Lebanon’s persistent rally.

Terrence Romeo rounded out the double-figure scoring for Gilas with 10 points as Marc Pingris and Calvin Abueva added 8 and 7 points, respectively.

The Philippines enjoyed a 25-point contribution from the bench even as JC Intal and Asi Taulava were not fielded in. The Lebanese had only 7 bench points.

Though used to having the crowd on their side wherever they are in the world, the Philippine team displayed nerves of steel as they brushed off a pesky Lebanon side late in the fourth, ultimately leading by as many as 14 points.

A gutsy Romeo drive after hesitating twice from downtown as the arena came alive gave Gilas a double-digit advantage, 69-59, with over 4 minutes left to play.

But Lebanon would not simply roll over and die as Wael Arakji drained a trey to slice the lead back down to 7 in the ensuing play. But Pingris and Castro conspired for a 5-point swing with a putback and a booming triple to re-establish a 74-62 lead with 2:16 remaining.

One final Lebanese three-pointer shot fear into the hearts of Filipinos, 74-65, with 1:51 left but Pingris and all 33 years of him scored 4 straight points to seal the deal and quell all worries.

Gilas won the contest despite having only 8 assists, which is below their usual double-digit output.

Mohamad Ali Haidar tallied a team-high 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Bassel Bawji added 17 markers and 13 boards for the 34th ranked Lebanon.

Naturalized guard Jasmon Youngblood was limited to just 12 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 5-of-15 shooting from the field.

The road to Rio continues for the Philippine national men’s basketball team – ranked 31st in the world by FIBA – which has not reached the men’s Olympic basketball tournament since 1972.


Philippines (82): Castro 25, Blatche 24, Romeo 10, Pingris 8, Abueva 7, Norwood 5, De Ocampo 3, Ganuelas 0, Thoss 0, Hontiveros 0, Intal 0, Taulava 0.

Lebanon (70): Haidar 18, Bawji 17, Youngblood 12, Arakji 8, Abd El Nour 8, Saoud 7, Kheres 0, Ibrahim 0, Souaid 0, Akl 0, Tabet 0, El Ayoubi 0.

Quarter scores: 20-16, 37-32, 57-49, 82-70.


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