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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – One win down.
Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva shone brightly as Gilas Pilipinas weathered a huge third quarter rally and outlasted the fiery home team Chinese Taipei A, 77-69, to open their 2015 William Jones Cup campaign at the Xin Zhuang Gymnasium in Taiwan.
(READ AND VOTE: Build your Gilas Pilipinas dream team)
Gilas rookie guard Romeo exploded for a game-high 18 points and 3 rebounds off the bench while Abueva once again served as spark plug during a crucial stretch of the fourth and finished with 15 markers on top of 5 boards, also off the bench.
The 23-year old Romeo took control of the team’s first Jones Cup outing and hit a dagger three-pointer with 2:20 remaining to turn a one-possession lead into a 71-65 advantage for the Philippines.
Veteran Jayson Castro then followed that up with a floater to extend Gilas’ advantage to 73-65 with 1:48 to go.
The Taiwanese sank two free throws but Romeo showed no fear and attacked the gut of the defense for a scoop shot, as Castro then scored on a breakaway lay-up to push Gilas’ lead to 77-67 with under a minute to go.
Castro, a mythical team member of the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, registered 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals in the win. Dondon Hontiveros added 9 points.
After leading by as much as 47-28, Gilas was outscored 23-7 in a huge third quarter blast as Chinese Taipei tied the count at 54 entering the fourth.
But the Filipinos opened the last quarter with a 7-0 run to regain control of momentum in a back and forth affair with the Taiwanese before Romeo hit the big triple.
The Philippines prevailed despite seeing its frontline thin out due to foul trouble. Moala Tautuaa and Asi Taulava both fouled out in the payoff period.
Romeo had a huge first half and surprised everyone as he took over for Gilas early on, attacking relentlessly and firing at will. (WATCH: Terrence Romeo breaks Taiwan defender’s ankles lay-up)
The Philippines showed much promise as it uncorked a huge outburst of energy to start their first full competition in the build-up to the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in China this September.
Gilas will take on a familiar foe in South Korea on Monday, August 31 for a rematch of the 2013 FIBA Asia semifinals. – Rappler.com