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MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas leaned on timely buckets by Justin Brownlee to ward off Korean Basketball League side Changwon LG Sakers, 86-81, in a tune-up game ahead of the Asian Games on Friday, September 22.
Brownlee scored 7 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Nationals – buoyed by a loud Filipino crowd at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig – scored a morale-boosting victory before they fly to Hangzhou, China.
June Mar Fajardo backstopped Brownlee with 16 points, Calvin Oftana produced a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double, while Scottie Thompson put up 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Arvin Tolentino added 9 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals despite coming in as a late replacement alongside CJ Perez, Chris Ross, and Kevin Alas as they were tapped to join the squad just a couple of days prior.
The four players are on standby in case Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Jason Perkins, and Mo Tautuaa are ruled ineligible to play since they were not on the list of players submitted to the Asian Games organizing committee.
Brownlee and Tolentino drained back-to-back triples for a 76-70 edge as Gilas Pilipinas – which blew a lead as big as 13 points, 45-32 – held the upper hand the rest of the way.
A triple and a layup in succession from Lim Dong-seob cut the Sakers’ deficit to 80-84, but Brownlee iced the game with a floater with 1:30 minutes left.
Former NBA veteran Dante Cunningham posted 18 points and 8 rebounds to pace Changwon, which reached the semifinals of the previous KBL season.
Big man Assem Marei, who saw action in Manila as he represented Egypt in the FIBA World Cup, tallied 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals in the losing effort. – Rappler.com