MANILA, Philippines – Paul Lee knocked down three pressure packed free throws with no time remaining in the ball game to give Gilas Pilipinas the bronze medal in the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup, 80-79, breaking the hearts of hosts China.
With the clock winding down, Lee received a pass from LA Tenorio and drew a foul from China while attempting a three-point shot late in the game. The foul was called with no time remaining in the final period.
Lee knocked down all free throws to give the Philippines its best-ever finish in the FIBA Asia Cup, formerly known as the Stankovic Cup.
Back in 2010 and 2012, the Filipinos also played in the third-place game only to lose to Qatar both times.
The Philippines trailed nearly all game long. China looked to be firmly in control when they outscored Gilas in the first 6 minutes of the payoff period, 15-6, and held a 9-point bubble after a trey from Gu Quan.
Ranidel De Ocampo, who led the Gilas with 18 points on 3/3 shooting from downtown, knocked down his third triple of the game with under three minutes remaining to cut China’s lead to just 4, 75-71.
Lee then drive and dropped off a pass to Japeth Aguilar who scored inside while drawing a foul. He completed the three-point play to cut China’s lead to just two points with 1:29 left in the game.
LA Tenorio then tied the count at 77-all with a floater but the Chinese quickly made it 79-77 after Makan made two freebies for a 79-77 lead with 46 seconds left.
China had a chance to extend the lead to four points but failed to make two more free throws in the next play. Tenorio grabbed the rebound and quickly fired a pass to Lee who was waiting in the left wing ready to fire from downtown.
This was the first time a Philippine national team beat a Chinese national team since SMC Team Pilipinas did it twice in the 2007 FIBA Asia Men’s Championships in Tokushima, Japan.
In the two teams’ previous meeting in the 2012 FIBA Asia Cup in Tokyo, China roared back from a second half deficit to pull the rug from under Gilas in the first round.
This time, though, it was the Filipinos’ turn to blindside the Chinese.
Makan topscored for China with a game-high 23 points on 7/12 FG shooting. Gao Shang and Tao Hanlin each had 11, while Zhou Qi tossed in 10 points in support.
The World-Cup-bound Filipinos finished the tournament with a best-ever 5-1 win-loss record and will bring home the bronze medal.
Lee, who has been the biggest story for Gilas in the FIBA Asia Cup after leading Gilas in its first three wins, finished the game with 9 points and two assists. It was only the second time in the tourney that he finished single-digits in scoring. The first was in the Philippines’ semifinal loss against Iran.
Philippines (80) – De Ocampo 18, Aguilar 14, Tenorio 12, Belga 10, Douthit 10, Lee 9, Lanete 3, Dillinger 2, Washington 2, David 0, Alas 0
China (79) – Makan 23, Gao 11, Tao 11, Zhou 10, Wang 9, Gu 7, Zhang 6, He 2, Dong 0, Zhao 0, Cao 0
Quarter scores: 15-24, 38-44, 60-62, 80-79
– with reports from Enzo Flojo/Rappler.com
GILAS PILIPINAS AT FIBA ASIA CUP