Baltazar shows off range as Gilas routs Saudis for King's Cup breakthrough

Justine Baltazar showed off his sky-high potential and versatility in Jordan as Gilas Pilipinas thwarted Saudi Arabia, 77-62, for a breakthrough win in the King Abdullah Cup on Tuesday, July 27.

The La Salle big-man-turned-wing scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half as the national team mounted a 43-30 halftime lead, rectifying its slow start last game. In that span, Baltazar sank two of his triples, finishing with a 4-of-4 clip from downtown overall.

Gilas kept the pressure up deep into the second half and peaked with a 20-point lead, 69-49, off a layup from Dwight Ramos, who finished with another all-around line of 7 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.

Although the Saudis gave the Filipinos a good scare with a 10-0 response to bridge the gap to just 10, 59-69, it became a case of too little, too late as Gilas shut them down with a final rally towards the buzzer.

Coming off a lackluster shooting game against Egypt where it shot 4-of-27 from deep for 14%, Gilas showed flashes of its adaption to the modern game with a superb 12-of-28 clip from downtown, or 42%, this time around.

That is nearly half of the Filipinos' made field goals as they finished 27-of-65, or 41% overall.

Like Baltazar, big man Isaac Go likewise had a green light from deep, albeit finishing with just a 2-of-8 clip for 10 points.

Mohammed Alsuwailem led the losing effort with 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting, while Khalid Abdel Gabar backstopped him with 12 markers on a perfect 4-of-4 clip.

Gilas looks to build up from this shooting exhibition as it faces Jordan Team B next on 9 pm on Wednesday, July 28, Manila time, in this week-long tournament.

The Scores

Gilas Pilipinas 77 – Baltazar 16, Kouame 10, Go 10, Ildefonso 8, Ramos 7, Ravena 6, Heading 6, Tamayo 5, Navarro 3, Abarrientos 3, Chiu 2, Belangel 1, Suerte 0, Mi. Nieto 0.

Saudi Arabia 62 – Alsuwailem 18, Gabar 12, Jalas 10, Kadi 8, Shubayli 5, Ma. Almarwani 2, Mo. Almarwani 2, Albargawi 2, Alhosawe 2, Belal 1, Alsager 0, Althalabi 0, Brnawi 0.

 Quarters: 19-14, 43-30, 65-49, 77-62.

– Rappler.com