Gilas Pilipinas scrapes by Jordan to top Group B

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas squandered an early double-digit lead and had to scramble in the endgame to pull out a squeaker over Jordan, 71-70, in the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan, China. The win secured Group B’s top spot for the Filipinos, who are set to face a confident and dangerous Indian side in the knockout quarterfinals this Thursday. 

Like they had done in previous games, Gilas started strong and built a 25-14 advantage midway through the second period. The Jordanians, however, responded with their own run and knotted the count at halftime, 30-all.  

Despite having Marcus Douthit and June Mar Fajardo, Gilas had a tough time containing Jordan’s young twin towers, Ahmad Al-Dwairi and Mohammad Shaher Hussein. Al-Dwairi and Hussein, both of whom are still in their early 20s, paired up to record 20 points and 23 rebounds. Al-Dwairi also recorded 2 blocked shots.

The Jordanians, nicknamed Al Nashama or “The Chivalrous,” turned up the pressure when play resumed in the third quarter, frustrating the Filipinos and taking a 52-49 advantage to the final ten minutes of play. 

It was a nip-and-tuck affair in the final frame as both teams traded big shot after big shot. The key play, however, was Ranidel De Ocampo’s draining a huge three-point shot with 41 seconds to go that broke the match’s final deadlock, 71-68. Jordan’s veteran naturalized player, Rasheim Wright, was then fouled in the next sequence, and he calmly sank two free throws to pull within a point of the World Cup-bound Pinoys, 70-71. 

With about 15 seconds left, LA Tenorio muffed a gimme, and that breathed some life into the upset-conscious Jordanians. Al Nashama’s resident sniper, Wesam Al-Sous, launched a potential game-winning three with 6 ticks to go, but it wasn’t on-target. That sealed the fate of coach Rajko Toroman’s crew, who fall down to third place in Group B and will face the seemingly indomitable Iranians in the quarterfinals. 

The Rain or Shine duo of Paul Lee and Beau Belga buoyed Gilas’s effort in the payoff period. Lee hit a big three late, while Belga came through on both ends of the floor to give Gilas the lift it needed off the bench. 

For the third straight game, Lee led the scoring with 16 points, while Ranidel De Ocampo and Marcus Douthit finished with 14 and 13 markers respectively. De Ocampo waxed hot from rainbow country, knocking down 4 triples, while Douthit collared 9 rebounds to anchor the middle for Gilas.

Wesam Al-Sous paced Jordan with 14 points, while Al-Dwairi added 13 markers and 14 boards. Wright also impressed with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

Scores:

PH (71) - Lee 16, De Ocampo 14, Douthit 13, Dillinger 9, Belga 7, Tenorio 4, David 4, Alas 2, Fajardo 2, Aguilar 0, Lanete 0, Washington 0

JOR (70) - Al-Sous 14, Al-Dwairi 13, Wright 11, Al-Awadi 9, Al-Hamarsheh 7, Hussein 7, Eid 7, Abu Ruqayah 2, Abdeen 0

Quarter scores: 17-12, 30-30, 49-52, 71-70

– Rappler.com

GILAS PILIPINAS AT FIBA ASIA CUP